ASSESSMENT OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF COMMUNITY MANAGED RURAL WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS IN LESOTHO: A Case Study of Makeneng Village, Mafeteng District
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The major challenge facing most community managed rural water supply projects in developing countries, including Lesotho is lack of sustainability. Over the past two decades, community management has become the prevalent model for the management of rural water supplies throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Low water supply sustainability levels throughout the sub- continent indicate that community management is not improving rural water supply. Many community-based rural water systems in Lesotho have failed. There is lack of clarity on whether community-based management works or under which conditions community management contributes to sustainable rural water services. This study was carried out between January 2008 to April 2008 in Lesotho and its major objective was to assess the sustainability of community managed rural water supply systems. A case study of Makeneng water supply system which was implemented by the Department of Rural Water Supply in 2000 was used. Focus group discussions, key informant interviews and observations were used to assess the sustainability of the water system. The indicators of sustainability that were looked at were; community participation in the project cycle; - the capacity of the local institutions to manage the system, the ability of the community to manage the type of system installed specifically looking at the choice of technology; functioning and state of the system; - availability of water; - breakdown times as well as operation and maintenance issues. The study established that community participation varied across the project cycle, from the inception to the monitoring stage. The chief, VWC and the Community Councillor were the main institutional actors and they showed signs of capacity on managing the system. The type of technology used in Makeneng, was chosen by the community and functions well except in times of electricity cuts that happen twice a week and determine the availability of water. It was concluded that there should be continuous community participation and increase in the number of actors trained to manage the system to enhance sustainability.