204715 Addressing the global crisis in safe drinking water: Paradigm shift for the 21st century

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nina Alice Miller, PhD , Volunteer Services, Training and Applied Research, Water For People (NGO), Denver, CO
The international water development sector has been hard at it for more than 30 years, and has made real progress. The most recent Joint Monitoring Program report shows the number of people without safe drinking water below one billion for the first time since such statistics have been collected. But 884 million people are still one in seven of all people. And by far the biggest obstacle to solving the crisis we face is ensuring the sustainability of systems. Going forward, we need to ensure that those who are served, stay served.

Much of the problem lies with the project-by-project model that has dominated development since the 1980's. Intended to empower communities by putting responsibility for their water systems in their own hands, it has also effectively isolated those same communities from the resources necessary for long-term sustainability. FRUGAL - Forming Rural Utility Groups and Leases is a private sector approach with the potential to cut through the problems of this earlier, community-only model.

FRUGAL is being tried in Water For People's new country programs in Rwanda and Uganda, which target historically underserved rural populations. FRUGAL enlists external private operators to take responsibility for by making a business enterprise from constructing and rehabilitating water systems, and operating and maintaining them. Communities retain ownership of the infrastructure while paying a fee to the service provider. Government plays essential roles in the areas of quality oversight and infrastructure funding.

Learning Objectives:
1. Articulate a private-sector driven approach to rural community water systems in the developing world. 2. Articulate the weaknesses of subsidy-based approaches to rural community water systems in the developing world.

Keywords: Water, International

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as director for research activities for Water For People, whose work is presented in the submitted paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.