Giving Compass’ Take:
• Dr. Ellie Chowns, writing forWASHfunders, discusses why community management is a potentially ineffective path for WASH projects and suggests three alternative practices.
• Are there funding concerns for alternative options besides community management? How can WASH funders help address them?
• Read more about WASH tools for donors.
First, community management is inefficient. Preventive maintenance is almost never done, repairs are often slow and sub-standard, and committees are unable to collect and save funds. Average savings are only 2% of the expected level, and only 13% of committees have enough money to buy a single replacement rod.
Equally disappointingly, community management is disempowering. It reinforces existing village power relations, and breeds conflict rather than strengthening social capital. Often, this conflict is around misuse of funds. Many committees are defunct; and when they do exist, as one woman said, ‘the committee is higher than the community’ – meaning downward accountability simply doesn’t happen.
It’s time to acknowledge that community management is both inefficient and disempowering, stop trying to reform it, and look towards replacing it instead.
So what might work better? Here are three suggestions:
- Build better water points. As a social scientist I am happy to acknowledge that engineering really matters! There are still far too many poorly-constructed water points being installed.
- It’s superfluous and expensive to train multiple committees of 10-12 people each, when all that is really needed may be one skilled Area Mechanic with a bike, a phone, and (crucially) an effective means of financing his or her work (see next point…)
- Pay for results. There’s promising evidence in many sectors that, actually, top-down accountability is part of the solution.
Read the full article about community management by Dr. Ellie Chowns at WASHfunders.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Conservation, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Conservation.
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