Bibliography Table of Contents & Abstracts

 Rural Water Supply and Sanitation: Time for a Change. Anthony A. Churchill with the assistance of David de Ferranti, Robert Roche, Carolyn Tager, Alan A. Walters, and Anthony Yazer. World Bank Discussion Papers No. 18. The World Bank, Washington, D.C. 1987.

The purpose of this report is to contribute to the re-examination of the issues and problems of rural water supply.

Issues and problems that were addressed include:

Can the rural poor pay for services? A review of the global situation reveals that most rural areas can afford to pay for improved services, provided appropriate technologies and delivery mechanisms are used. People are already spending large amounts of time and energy in collecting water; the issue is whether it can be done at a lower cost.

Are there significant health benefits? Available evidence suggests that there is a very tenuous link between improvements in health and investments in water supply and sanitation. The best that can be said is that these services may be necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve any tangible effects on morbidity and mortality.

To what extent can strengthening of institutions help project performance? Institutional weakness is a major issues, but it is not easy to separate from the weakness of virtually all institutions in developing countries. Changes required will only come as part of the general process of development.

To what extent can more appropriate technologies help? Appropriate technologies do exist and are available to be used, but will not be used unless appropriate incentives are adopted.

Toward Better Solutions

Benefits. Rural water projects lead to a savings fro villagers in the time and effort required to get a given quantity of water to their home. Getting water is time-consuming and heavy work, taking up to 15 percent or more a women's time in some areas. Saving time has greater or lesser value to a household, depending on what its members can do with the extra time. It is the time of women that matters most.

Costs. Transporting water manually, literally headloading, is expensive relative to other cost factors and can result in high total costs per unit of water consumed.

Comparing Benefits and Costs. Piped systems demonstrate substantial economies of scale at a surprising low level of population size and density. Most of the economies of scale are reached at village sizes of 800 people and at densities as low as 80 persons per hectare. The combination of piped water systems with some hauling of water - the standpipe - rarely proves to be the lowest cost alternative.

Policy Implications. Evidence suggests there is both a willingness and ability to pay for improved services in most rural areas. Assessing consumer preferences is one of the most neglected aspects and features prominently in the reasons for project failure.

Finance and Pricing. One alternatives is the creation of a revolving fund at the local or national level. Lump-sum fees unrelated to consumption may be a simple solution.

Institutional Development. There is an overreliance on the central government to the virtual exclusion of local government and the private sector. Information on hydrology, geology, rainfall, etc., is seriously lacking inn all countries.

Sanitation. Investments in this sector do not appear to of high priority to most rural dwellers.

Bibliography Links:
Water and Sanitation for All
| Action Checklist | Customers & Providers | Policies & Legal Aspects |
| Funding & Cost Recovery | Levels of Service | Resources |
| Site Map | Home | Introduction | Contributions |