Learning and change
This report documents the experiences in Swaziland, where the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE) was the implementing agent of the project ‘Capacity Building for the Lavumisa Irrigation Development Project’.
Sustained access to water in low- and middle-income countries is crucial for domestic use (drinking, personal hygiene, etc.) and is also an imperative for people's livelihoods, income-generating activities and small-scale enterprise (e.g. livestock, horticulture, irrigation, fisheries, brickmaking, and othes). Overall, this book exposes the detrimental effects and impacts of approaching water services in isolated ways -- where the continued practise of separating community water services between domestic use and livelihoods have done little in alleviating poverty.
Noting that the design and management of most water services fail to reflect the 'real-life' use of water, the essay contributions to this book suggest a multiple-use water services (MUS) approach in meeting people's dual water needs. The contributions to this book are drawn from an action research project that explores water systems in eight countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, South Africa, Thailand and Zimbabwe). Known as the action research project ‘ Models for implementing multiple-use water supply systems for enhanced land and water productivity, rural livelihoods and gender equity’, the findings of the research study is a collective product of engagement amongst 150 institutions worldwide.
This book shows how livelihoods act as the main driver for water services and how access to water is determined by sustainable water resources, appropriate technologies and equitable ways of managing communal systems.
Climbing the water ladder requires a small fraction of total water resources, yet has the potential to help people climb out of poverty. Local government can be the pivot to make this happen. But, it needs support to implement its mandate to meet multiple-use demand and to become more accountable to people in communities.
This book is a joint publication by IWMI, CPWF and IRC.
Below is a link to the PDF version or you order a hard-copy version here.
Powerpoint presentation by Barbara van Koppen, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), given at the World Water Forum in Turkey, 2009.
Powerpoint presentation by Monique Mikhail and Bob Yoder, IDE-International, given at the World Water Forum in Turkey, 2009.
Powerpoint presentation by Ines Restrepo-Tarquino, Instituto Cinara Universidad del Valle, given at the World Water Forum in Turkey, 2009.
It is postulated that 'multiple use systems' allow efficient and effective supply of water from different sources to communities for its domestic and for its productive purposes and allow effective interaction with providers of water related services. Such multiple use systems would be highly desirable from the perspectives of using scarce water efficiently, promoting gender equity and improving livelihoods. It is therefore necessary to carry out scientific research to verify the statement about this water-innovation. The mode of research must be 'action research'.
The specific form and management of multiple use systems depends on local socio-economic and biophysical factors, as well as on local institutions and legislation. Eleven 'cornerstones' need to be in place to realize a full multiple use system. Since a blue print cannot be made and many parties are involved, 'learning alliances' have to be set up at the local, intermediate and national levels. These learning alliances identify how much of these cornerstones of multiple use systems are still lacking and members work together to create or implement these. Guidelines are needed for setting up learning alliances and for actually implementing systems of multiple water use.
The broad objective of this paper is to highlight the complexities of poverty and how understanding vulnerabilities in relation to rural livelihoods can enable water service provision to respond to the needs of the poorest households in communities. This is based upon work carried out in ward 16 of the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality, in the context of participatory assessment and planning with community based structures, local government and a number of government department officials, and the subsequent reflection on what took place there, and its implication.
The report reflects on the challenges of adopting water services delivery approaches based on the livelihoods realities of poor people. In doing so, this paper explores the complexities and practicalities of understanding rural livelihoods systems from a water perspective. Special attention is given to the various ways in which local service providers perceive and conceptualize poverty (and vulnerability), and how their perceptions informs their implementation of services and their selection processes for identifying the poorest households. The understanding (based on ongoing work with stakeholders) is that while there are planning frameworks which encourage an integrated and poverty reduction focused approach to service delivery, in practice this is still a challenging task to achieve, partly due to the complex realities of identifying and reaching the poorest and partly due to the fragmented nature of service delivery processes in most municipal areas in South Africa. The importance of addressing governance issues if we are to achieve water service provision that makes a real contribution to poverty eradication is emphasized.
Some of the key issues to be considered in any attempt to plan services that are based on the livelihoods realities of poor people are outlined in conclusion. Many of these relate to the issue of institutional development and capacity building and include:
• Adopting a learning approach and providing practical tools for unpacking the complex linkages between water and poverty, and for understanding the role of water services in addressing poverty and reducing vulnerabilities.
• A multidisciplinary approach to poverty eradication where water services is recognized as one of the key contribution to poverty alleviation.
• Poverty in rural areas is a result of both physical deprivation and socioeconomic processes and structures; therefore understanding and action must focus on some of the historical, social, economic and political factors leading to vulnerabilities and poverty.
The multiple uses of water (mus) approach to water services provision aims to meet people’s different water needs in an integrated way. This approach has been gaining broad recognition in South Africa over the last few years, expressed in a range of initiatives in terms of policy, research, implementation and advocacy. In 2005 a
national seminar was held in which these initiatives were mapped out. One of the concerns raised was that local government is key to implementation, but they have so far been absent from the discussions about mus. Therefore, this year the seminar was convened by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), the MUS (Multiple Use Systems) project, in partnership with WIN-SA (the Water Information Network of South Africa) and SALGA (the South African Local Government Association), with the objective to look into implications for local government implementation of the mus approach. This particularly revolved around the guidelines for local government implementation of multiple use water services that DWAF is developing. Participants came from a cross-section of institutions: national government departments, provincial DWAF offices and local government, research institutions, NGOs and consultancies. This report provides the key points of discussion of the seminar.
The importance of mus to realising goals of addressing poverty through water was emphasized. However there are still no coherent, agreed upon, national definitions of multiple uses of water, which give clarity while providing flexibility. It is agreed that livelihoods and Local Economic Development (LED) are at the heart of mus, and that
the boundaries of that cannot be tightly set. Definitions can become an academic discussion, but are important as they have implications for mandates, and for accounting and funding purposes. Mapping of the different funding streams made it clear that, mostly, combinations of such streams will be needed to implement mus.
This is complicated, as the entities who administer them operate at different levels, with different procedures. Integrated Development Plans, in theory, provide a mechanism for alignment between those, but in practice IDP processes are weak. IDPs could be the basis for assessing demand and needs for mus, considering supply issues, and enabling cooperative governance. Combining piped water supply with alternative water sources, especially rainwater harvesting, seem to provide the most practical way forward. The lack of capacity at municipal level and how this may limit the implementation of mus, was raised as a concern. On the other hand, the integrated approach required for mus may also be an opportunity to overcome these problems.
A range of activities were proposed in terms of a way forward. Communication and advocacy for the concept was recommended, targeted at senior decision makers at DPLG and SALGA, as well as at local government level. The guidelines need further elaboration, especially in terms of the mapping of financing streams, and the links with IDP processes. At the same time, piloting of the guidelines should start at municipal level. Such piloting could seek two approaches – one with funding allocated to support it, another working within the reality of the existing funding streams. Pilots could provide the nexus for further collective learning, and for including local government more actively in the further development of the guideline, and in making policy recommendations that flow from learning what is needed to enable the realisation of this approach. Alignment with other initiatives was recommended, the piloting of rain water harvesting being highlighted.
Providing water services for multiple uses, often requires a change in the way intermediate level institutions, such as local government, sector departments and NGOs, plan and implement water supply. Above all, it requires the capacity for integrated planning to meet people’s multiple livelihoods needs, and the capacity to follow a participatory approach. Many intermediate level institutions currently lack such capacities.
In Bushbuckridge, South Africa, it has been tried to promote the multiple use approach among intermediate level institutions through a programme called SWELL (Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods). A key element of the programme was to follow a multi-stakeholder approach, involving community structures and intermediate level agencies in bottom-up integrated planning for multiple uses, with the view to base the mus approach within local government reality, and to strengthen the capacity of the stakeholders involved. This report details the approach followed, and tries to evaluate the changes in capacity that have occurred.
An increase in understanding about multiple use services has been observed, as well as a positive attitude towards such services. Especially at field officer level, it is realised that current approaches of services delivery and ad-hoc planning do not lead to sustainable services or impacts in people’s livelihoods. However, this realisation doesn’t lead as of yet into changes in practices. One reason for that is that senior decision-makers haven’t been fully involved in the programme as hoped. This means that field staff often do not get the mandate to take lessons learnt forward. It also implies that the call for improved cooperative governance remains a call only. Giving actual shape to this promising concept only happens on paper. But, it must be said that the consolidation of institutional responsibilities in local government help in taking away the institutional confusion which in the past has given rise to so much finger pointing. Accountability mechanisms between communities, their representative structures and service providers are poor, and haven’t improved. The limited actual responsibility of community structures is a main reason for that.
Reflecting on the learning approach taken, future activities would need to seek a closer involvement of senior decisions makers, even though it is realised that this is difficult. Probably another important lesson has been the opportunity to link the findings from working at intermediate level with the engagement with national stakeholders. It is felt that the experiences from Bushbuckridge provide relevant practical limitations to implementing mus within local government. National agencies are in a position to support local authorities in this. Linking practical experiences to the national policy debate is therefore crucial.
The concept of multiple use services has been developed in response to the often limited approach to water services development, which doesn’t include water for livelihoods activities, such as gardening or livestock. Zimbabwe is rich in experience with the implementation of water services for multiple purposes, especially those promoted by NGOs. However, learning and sharing about the experiences about this approach was deficient, limiting the effective and efficient scaling up of the experiences. A so-called Learning Alliance (LA) approach was proposed to overcome these limitations.
This report describes how the LA concepts were applied in the MUS project in Zimbabwe, and also assess the experiences with the approach, describing the process followed, and analysis of the experiences and impacts of the approach.
Initially, the LA was conceptualised as a separate group or network of organisations, which would come together on a regular basis to share experiences. Besides, support to activities at decentralised levels was planned. The LA would be a separate group under the WES-WG meeting, the existing coordination body in the water sector.
The different plans developed worked out completely different from what was envisaged. One of the reasons was that it proved impossible to find members willing to make time available for these specific meetings outside the regular WES-WG meetings. At the same time, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the WES-WG were slightly expanded from being a purely operational coordination body to one in which learning and sharing were more predominant. That made the need for a separate group working on multiple uses partially redundant. In fact, many issues of multiple uses were included into other activities of the WES-WG, such as the standardisation of terminology for technologies and the guidelines for Community Based Management. It must also be recognised that in the country there was already a lot of critical mass around multiple uses. There wasn’t a need to advocate for it, but rather allow the sharing of practical experiences with it.
Developing the link with the district levels proved difficult within the limited resources of the MUS project only. Members of the WES-WG do share lessons with their decentralised offices, but only to a limited way. In the current context, with very limited funds, it will remain difficult to have an effective learning platform at decentralised level, as there is hardly any space to put lessons learnt into practice.