While SNV's Functionality of Rural Water Supply Services programme currently only operates in one district, we are taking our experiences and advocating for smart development at the national level too.

SNV, the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), and Kampot Provincial Department of Rural Development (PDRD) jointly hosted a national learning event in Phnom Penh on 26 November 2014. We covered two experiences in particular: Water Sanitation User Groups (WSUGs) for management of rural water supplies; and the National Water Supply Inventory to count the number of existing supplies and use the data for policy and planning. 

The workshop was attended by 50 participants including representatives from various MRD departments, the National Committee for Decentralisation and Deconcentration, staff from eight different PDRD offices, and various NGOs working on rural water supply. The morning session was dedicated to reviewing the previous implementation of Water and Sanitation User Groups and the new methodology piloted by SNV and PDRD-Kampot. 

Though MRD produced guidelines nearly a decade ago, they have not been disseminated to provincial departments. Moreover, the PDRD offices only initiate a loose User Group model at newly constructed infrastructure funded by the government. In most provinces this equates to no more than ten wells per year, while thousands of wells exist in each province with no formal management structure to support operation, maintenance, and repair.

SNV then presented on the re-design of the Water and Sanitation User Group methodology and its experience implementing them with PDRD and local authorities. A short video was also presented to visually present the experience so far. To date over 500 Water and Sanitation User Groups have been established at public water supplies in Chum Kiri district, a coverage rate of over 90%. In 2015, village repair agents will be trained using a recently completed operation, maintenance, and repair handbook and WSUGs will be strengthened through ongoing activities.

At the workshop, the Department of Rural Water Supply committed to closely monitor the results generated by this activity in 2015 and will consider this WSUG development for scale-up of government support and funding if the results are found to be strong. In the afternoon session, the background of the National Water Supply Inventory was reviewed. It was reported that the inventory is conducted semi-annually when MRD needs to report internal statistics. However, there is no budget allocated to the provinces to complete this activity, and the various PDRD staff in attendance complained that the data quality is poor. Refer to previous blog posts for more details on the subject.

SNV then presented on the re-design of the National Inventory and results from the field pilot in Kampot Province.  A budget estimation was also discussed for what the costs may be if the methodology was institutionalised and implemented nationwide. The Director of Rural Water Supply at MRD noted that the inventory is an existing and important activity and SNV should work with his staff to finalise the new methodology and roll it out with adequate government funding allocations in 2016.

SNV will continue to work with MRD and provincial partners in 2015 to improve the health and livelihoods of the residents in the implementation areas while advocating for reforms at the national level.