‘Sustainable Water Management & Distribution: Sensitising Consumer Groups/CSOs in Rajasthan’

Objective of the seminar

  • To sensitise CSOs/Consumer groups on issues; overall water availability, allocation, conservation, management & distribution vis-à-vis their interrelationship.
  • To get first hand information about state of affairs of water distribution scenario in the state.
  • To showcase few successful case studies pertaining community participation in water conservation, management & distribution in different parts of Rajasthan for encouraging wide scale replications of such examples.

Categories of Participants

  • Civil Society Organisations (CSOs): Consumer groups/CSOs working on these issues from across the Rajasthan; select CSO representatives from Uttranchal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerla, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, New Delhi
  • Policy Makers/service providers: Principle Secretary (water resources) Government of Rajasthan; Secretary Public Health & Engineering Department (PHED), Secretary (Irrigation), Chief Engineer (PHED), Director Central Ground Water Board, Superintend Engineer State Ground Water Board and many others.
  • Donor community: UNICEF, WaterAid India, Some NGOs, donor agencies, experts from States other than Rajasthan
  • Water and Sanitation Programme (South Asia): Salman Zaheer, Badal Malick

George Cheriyan,CUTS: Explained about the objectives for organising this seminar and rationale for scheduling between ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ (15 March) with this years’ theme ‘right to water’ and the ‘World Day for Water’ (22nd March).

Salman Zaheer, WSP-SA: He briefly explained about mission and working of Water and Sanitation Programme (South Asia). WSP is working upon fixing the institutions, rather than pipes, to deliver safe water to all with in next 15 years.

Satish Kumar, UNICEF, Jaipur: He illustrated the current scenario of water availability, management and delivery in Rajasthan, and emphasised the need to club traditional knowledge with new practices. He briefly explained the initiatives UNICEF has been working upon in Rajasthan particularly in rural areas.

D. C. Samant, Principle Secretary (Water Resources)GoR: Mr. Samant started with saying that CUTS must scale up its association with government to meet the common endeavour. Consumers’ role is vital in demand side management and conservation efforts. Integrated efforts of all stakeholders are required for better management.
Focused Presentations
M. S. Rathore, IDS, Jaipur: He started with pointing out diversity of water sources, availability as well as demand patterns in different parts of Rajasthan. Currently 8% of the total ground water being used for drinking purpose, 90% for irrigation and remaining 2% for industries and other uses. Almost 60% of the entire ground water resources in the state are cleverly affected with excessive fluoride. He pointed out that reason for non-success of government is primarily because of lack of demand side management perspective in its approach. There are too many government agencies to deal with water related matters however having little coordination among them. He emphasised for customising the approach as per local requirements. He was of the opinion that, prioritising water uses in the State policy will remain of little meaning till actually implemented at the ground. The set of problems in rural and urban areas are different, therefore so have to be the solutions. He strongly suggested for devising institutional mechanism to offer strong incentives for efficient uses at the consumer end.

Salman Zaheer: Salman strongly came out for making the institutions accountable and responsible to deliver the services, and shared some of WSP’ experiences pertaining to institutional reforms from within and outside the country. He strongly recommended for strengthening demand side institutions, offering incentives for performance, and having demand responsive approach aligning with the sprit of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments aiming at local self governance. He emphasised that, contrary to popular belief, ensuring 24X7 supply of water is quite achievable and would rather reduce the per capita consumption.

Mark Elerry, WSP-SA: Government of India promoted scheme ‘SwajalDhara’ is among successful examples of community involvement in planning as well as implementation process. Demand responsive approach is being followed in this programme, which has been resulting into maximising the benefits to the consumers. Now it is up to the state governments to scale up this initiative from the current pilot phase and to take-up into full fledge programme.

A. J. Jems, Consultant, World Bank: Quite often the official statistic about ground realities is not correct therefore cleverly affect planning process. It is important to carefully define the content, as to what needs to be communicating to the masses. Planning should be done at village level and such micro-plans should contribute to overall planning of the State. There is immediate need for strengthening the demand institutions.

Roger Filtzerald, WaterAid, India: Capacity building of government officials as well as consumer representatives is essential to achieve institutional reforms.
Experience Sharing

Case-1 ‘Community participation in water conservation’ by Jagvir Singh

It was a success story of community participation in effectively managing rainwater and develops pastureland, therefore securing sustainable water supply and livelihood for communities at Laporia village.

Case-2 ‘Apni Yojna, Churu-Community participation in distribution planning & management’ by Gautam Sadhu
It was an excellent case presented of collective participation and action by all stakeholders; government, community, consumers particularly women, and CSOs in almost 60 villages of Churu district in Rajasthan. Formation and active involvement of demand institutions at each step of planning and execution resulting into people getting safe drinking water and sanitation facilities at affordable price.

Case-3 ‘Swajaldhara Yojana, Alwar -community participation in rural water supply scheme’ by Sanjeev Bhatt

It was another case of implementing ‘SwajalDhara Yojna’ at Nasarpur village in Alwar district. Again, local communities were given the charge of planning, managing as well as operating the scheme therefore a successfully getting reliable water supply at affordable cost. Operation and maintenance cost is also being borne by the consumers. However he shared some difficulties being faced because of frequent policy changes by the government.
Recommendations Emerging out of Group Work

  • Different approached to be adopted to address the challenges in service delivery to rural and urban areas.
  • Strengthening demand institutions is a prerequisite to achieve demand responsive regime for planning and service delivery.
  • At present, demand institutions are either quite weak or non-exist at all in the state, extensive efforts are required to improve the situation
  • It was realised that government cannot meet the challenges single-handedly therefore new partnerships have to be encouraged.
  • Traditional wisdom pertaining to water conservation & management should be aligned with new techniques to meet the challenge holistically.
  • Too many government agencies are there to deal with water related matters with little coordination among them. Also currently the approach is of focusing upon supply side management and neglecting the demand responsive approach, which is inadequate.
  • Understanding of real issues is lacking among civil society, and the initiative such as CUTS-WSP has taken must be sustained.
  • It would be helpful if current state of affairs and consumer expectations could be mapped and widely disseminated among all stakeholders. Such exercise would revel valuable information about consumer psyche, preferences, current level of satisfaction, expectations, and so on.
  • Based upon the outcome of mentioned exercise, a sustained advocacy and capacity building campaign can be taken up to initiate institutional reforms to ensure better service delivery to consumers.
  • Almost vacuum exists in case of consumer representation and advocacy in case of urban areas. A vibrant network of capable civil society organisations needs to be developed and strengthened.

Creating ‘critical mass’ of informed civil society on issue like operational efficiency, quality, and economics of water delivery systems is very important. This can be done by facilitating stakeholder consultations and reaching out extensively.