A comparative assessment of communal water supply and self supply models for sustainable rural water supplies: a case study of Luapula, Zambia
2011-11-09T13:01:46Z (GMT) by
Over the last couple of decades, a significant amount of research has been carried out on rural water supplies in developing countries, and have identified the fact that the communal water supply model is not sustainable everywhere, especially in sparsely populated rural areas; factors obstructing sustainability include lack of spare parts, management systems and private/public capacity. Despite their enormous contribution to the water sector, the extant studies stay within the subsidized communal water supply and capacity building, post construction support or management system. In other words, very few studies have been done into household (private) level water supply. The Self Supply model is an approach which provides support to households/communities to complement their efforts and accelerate sustainable access to safe water incrementally through improvement to traditional water sources (hand dug wells) by putting in their own investment. The Self Supply model may give significant benefits for sustainable safe water supplies, especially in sparsely populated rural areas, in comparison with the communal water supply though to date there has been little monitoring and systematic analysis of what impact these changes have made at the grassroots level. The standpoint of this study is pragmatic, and herein, mixing quantitative and qualitative methods was justified in order to design the research methodologies. The research was conducted in the Luapula Province of Zambia using a concurrent triangulation strategy to offset the weakness inherent within one method with the strengths of the other. The data was collected through inventory and sanitary surveys, water quality testing, household surveys, document analyses, focus group discussions and key informant interviews to determine the most appropriate water supply model for safe, accessible, sustainable, cost-effective and acceptable water supplies for households in sparsely populated rural areas of Zambia. The principal argument of this study is that reliance only on a communal water supply model limits the achievement of increased sustainable access to a safe water supply; hence a Self Supply model is needed which does not compete with the communal models but works alongside them in sparsely populated rural areas of developing countries for the purpose of increasing access and achieving sustainability. It was strongly defended by the overall findings that a Self Supply model could significantly reduce the faecal contamination risk in water quality and deliver a higher per capita water use and better convenience of access than the communal model; however its reliability with respect to the water source drying up needs to be monitored. Further, this does not mean that the communal model is not sustainable anywhere, rather that it is important to build blocks for a sustainable environment to access safe water in a symbiotic way between the communal and Self Supply models under the condition that the government and NGOs/external support agencies overcome the temptation to provide a water supply to rural dwellers as a giveaway social service.