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2017 WWW Daily wednesday_webb

2017 WWW Daily

STOCKHOLM waterfront world water week daily | WEDNESDAY 30 AUGUST | 2017 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT KEY TO VIABILITY OF WATER PRICING TEXT | Nick Chipperfield PHOTO | andreas karlsson and mikael ullén DEVELOPING LOCAL SKILL SETS ARE CRITICAL TO ESTABLISHING SUCCESSFUL AND SUSTAINABLE WATER PRICING PROGRAMMES. THIS WAS THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE WATER PRICING: FINDING THE RIGHT PRICE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES SESSION. Seth Womble The event, convened by the Poul due Jensen Foundation and Water Mission, used an engaging real-world simulation, using figures taken from ongoing projects, to illustrate the advantages – and honestly assess the challenges – of introducing water-pricing programmes. The simulation, led by Seth Womble and Andrew Armstrong from Water Mission, involved people representing local community leaders, including a “This has to be very participatory.” ‘president’, a local government representative, a treasurer, a ‘lead system operator’, a WASH promotion co-ordinator, and a community development officer. This group was the all-important community water committee, tasked with budgeting for the installation and running a solar powered water pump. The process was divided into three main elements: price assessment, budgeting, and establishing financial targets. “We need to review affordability first: how much can we [the committee] charge for water in this community?” Armstrong said. He explained that in discussions within the water committee, and the local community as a whole, the committee needed to ask what people would pay for water. What were typical water prices, and what were ideal water prices; and then consider whether these are affordable in terms of typical household incomes in the local community. “When people spend more than five per cent of their income on water, that‘s a burden that they’re unable to bear,” Armstrong said. Secondly, the team focused on the need for the water committee to establish and agree on detailed budgets for operating costs (OPEX) and capital maintenance costs. This process ensures that the local community fully grasps the realities of implementing and running the project – and runs it themselves on their own terms. OPEX included chemical costs, cleaning, maintenance, water quality testing, mobile phone costs and operator salaries. This encourages water committee members to estimate ongoing monthly expenses, reinforce operational responsibility, and “develop ownership of the budgeting process,” Armstrong said. This builds understanding and encourages local communities to take responsibility of projects for the longterm, Womble added. Establishing realistic and transparent financial targets based on how many households use the system, and to what extent, was an important aspect of the process, Armstrong said. He noted however, that while encouraging communities to “set targets for full cost recovery” was controversial, it was entirely feasible. “This has to be very participatory, we want [local people] to do these calculations,” Armstrong said. published by stockholm international water institute