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Community participation in rural water supply

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conference contribution
posted on 12.02.2018, 15:08 by Michael Wood
Few rural communities in the developing world can have experienced such profound changes as have occured in Ethiopia since the revolution in 1974. The economy of the country is still based on agriculture but the former feudal structure has been transformed by sweeping land reform which put the means of production more in the hands of peasant farmers. Coupled with this development were radical changes in local government, with up to 25,000 Peasant Associations being formed. With the formation of other mass organizations, the rural population is now highly politicized. The Government, following a Marxist-­Leninist line, has always stressed the involvement of the community in their own development. This has included the development of rural water supplies. Ethiopia has been pre-eminent in the region in establishing a Community Participation Promotion Service within the agency responsible for the maintenance of rural water services. However, a recent survey in the Southern Region found that 30% of rural waterpoints were not functioning, and that only half of the communities with improved water supplies had a water committee to manage improved water systems (ref.1). This paper focuses on the situation in the Southern Region and will seek to explain why many rural water supply systems have not been sustainable, despite the emphasis that the government places on community involvement. Measures now being implemented to increase sustainability through more active and pragmatic community participation and through the use of appropriate technology will also be discussed.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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WEDC Conference


WOOD, M., 1991. Community participation in rural water supply. IN: Pickford, J. et al. (eds). Infrastructure, environment, water and people: Proceedings of the 17th WEDC International Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, 19-23 August 1991, pp.11-14.


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