Piped water supply services: strengthening management models in rural and small town contexts

System strengthening
Nawoli Jesca, 25, Commercial Officer, and Nkundizana Julius, 25, Team Leader, Busolwe Piped Water Supply System checking on a pipe to the main water reservoir, Busolwe Piped Water Supply System, Butaleja District, Uganda, November 2018.
Image: WaterAid/James Kiyimba

Many governments have set ambitious targets for reaching people with piped water services. Providing water taps in people's homes is one way of achieving safely managed access in line with the Sustainable Development Goal for water. But installing more household taps must come with stronger efforts to professionalise service management, ensure adequate levels of support, and that services are inclusive. Without paying sufficient attention to these and other aspects, there is a risk that piped water supply services will under-perform in low income areas, resulting in poor service levels and lost investment. There are, of course, alternatives to tapped water supplies, and these should be considered where a piped service is not viable.

Professionalisation series

This publication is the second in a series focused on management models for piped water services in rural and small town settings. The first publication, Management models for piped water services, sets out the factors that affect the sustainability of piped water, presenting ten different management models. This publication is a decision-making resource and is designed to help practitioners select or strengthen management arrangements for piped water supplies in different contexts. It compares the viability of the ten management models against the following four variables:

  • Commercial viability and economies of scale
  • Technical complexity, connectedness and local capacity 
  • Sector policy, legislation and financing arrangements
  • Regulation and accountability mechanisms, local preferences, and ensuring inclusive services for all

The third publication in this series, WhoDoesWAT, is a ground-tested participatory tool to help WASH practitioners facilitate dialogue between multiple stakeholders to strengthen management arrangements for rural and small-town water supply services.

Top image: Nawoli Jesca, 25, commercial officer, and Nkundizana Julius, 25, team leader of the Busolwe Piped Water Supply System check on a pipe to the main water reservoir in Butaleja District, Uganda, November 2018.