Water Journal : Water Journal September 2015
SEPTEMBER 2015 water 43 Feature article and rainwater systems were analysed separately because of the fundamentally different way the two system types are managed in PNG. Maintenance, along with functionality of the Water Management Committee (WMC), was identified by community members as the most important factor affecting sustainability for both system types. For maintenance, while the right skills, training and access to tools are vital, the critical finding was that someone (an individual or the WMC) needs to feel responsible for carrying out repairs. A high level of self-reliance is particularly important in remote, isolated communities in PNG, since at present there is no-one at the other end of the phone – neither government nor the private sector – who can fix the water supply system when it breaks down. In the absence of effective systems to support rural WASH down to the community level, most implementing agencies form WMCs at the conclusion of program implementation. 4 The study found that this was the case in the target communities but, despite a reasonable understanding of their role, most committees were not performing well. For example, in the five communities with rainwater systems, only one WMC was still active. Nevertheless, community members were generally supportive of the concept of WMCs. The study concluded that WMCs are more effective when the community determines their structures rather than them being imposed, when they have strong links to existing leadership structures and when they have the necessary skills. Community ownership was important for gravity-systems, which are community assets, but not for rainwater systems, which tend to be controlled by individual or small groups of households. For gravity systems, all of the communities with ‘high’ functioning systems were able to express a clear ‘vision’ for their system, including ideas for how it could be improved. In many of these communities the study found evidence of investment in maintenance and, in some cases, improvements or expansion. The study found that all high-functioning systems had a clear process for collecting tariffs for operation and maintenance, but it was apparent that communities prefer paying tariffs when they are needed rather than on a regular basis. Willingness to contribute was influenced by the level of service provided. Community conflict is common in PNG, but communities reported that conflict was generally manageable when it was related to the water supply. When it was about something else – and the water supply was ‘collateral damage’ – it was more difficult to resolve. A reliance on external support was (surprisingly) a more prominent factor for rainwater systems than gravity systems. Table 1. Sustainability factors. Gravity-fed systems Rainwater harvesting systems Maintenance – accountability in performing repairs Maintenance – acquisition of skills and training Water Management Committee – community-driven structure Water Management Committee – high level of self-reliance Community Ownership – systems are deemed as communal asset; clear vision for improvements Links to external support – heavily reliant on implementing agency for maintenance Tariffs – clear structure of collection and payments Ownership – owned by one or more households rather than the community Conflict – resolution is manageable if the conflict is WASH-related System Quality – constrained by social systems rather than infrastructure 4 Whose members are elected or appointed by the community and serve voluntarily. Measuring turbidity at the source, Ibonatau Community, Rigu District in Central Province. Community mapping in Vegos community, Henganofi District in Eastern Highlands Province.
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