At the outset of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) period 68 countries are not on track to achieve universal basic water services and 89 countries will not achieve universal basic sanitation services by 2030 (WHO/UNICEF, 2017). Furthermore, the SDGs challenge us to go even further than basic service provision, through the introduction of new standards of ‘safely managed’ services. Based on simple extrapolations, even more countries will fail to achieve universal safely managed services by 2030 unless major changes take place in the next 13 years.
Multi-village schemes (MVSs) connecting hundreds of villages and small towns into a bulk water distribution network represent an emerging frontier for rural water supply in low- and middle-income countries. Conventional rural water supply approaches for such contexts often advocate community management but the scale and complexity of MVSs necessitates alternative approaches. This paper presents three case studies from India of MVSs that focus on the role of communities in their overall management. These illustrate different mechanisms in which community management can or cannot be nested within an overall management system as well as different approaches for promoting community participation. The discussion draws on political economy perspectives to suggest an explanation for the differences across these case studies, while from a public policy perspective, the paper discusses how and why MVSs may lead to the decline of community management in certain contexts.
Taking stock: Sanitation sector needs to take greater responsibility to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
In the run up to UN Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26), various position papers have been published on climate change and sanitation (and broader WASH) (WaterAid, 2020; IRC and Water For People, 2021). For logical reasons they have largely focused on climate resilience and adaptation strategies. There is a clear need to adapt sanitation systems to deal with climate impacts and to provide high quality sanitation services to underpin societal resilience.