System development for future sustainability

The effectiveness of operation and maintenance has become very important in ensuring long term sustainability of the improved water systems. With the major investments on water sector during the early part of the decade Programme the emphasis was mainly placed only on new construction. A low profile was given for capacity building at the lowest level with user participation; in the development process. The outcome had been under priced water services, resulting in continuous deterioration of the improved facilities. As a result the national agencies had to continue reinvesting on rehabilitation diverting its scarce resources meant for still unreached communities. The recent innovative approaches used by the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWS&DB) of Sri Lanka as a part of its Rural Water Supply development programmes for small towns under different funding sources such as DANIDA, FINNIDA and IDA has ensured complete participation of all the users and partners in the whole development process leading to sustainable system development. This paper intends to highlight the strategies adopted and to discuss on various issues and outline a project specific system development procedure for the future.