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An Assessment of Sustainable Water Supply in Maiduguri/jere/ Jere L.g.a of Borno State

An Assessment of Sustainable Water Supply in Maidugurijere Jere L.g.a of Borno State


Objectives of the Study

  1. To establish the management approaches in sustaining water supply in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state.
  2. To determine how community participation influences sustainability of water supply in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state.
  3. To investigate the extent to which finances influence sustainability of water supply in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state.
  4. To examine the extent to which technology influences sustainability of water supply in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state.

Research Question

The study sought to answer the following research questions:

  1. What management approaches are being set in sustaining of water supply in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state?
  2. How does community participation influence the sustainability of piped water supplies in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state?
  3. How does finance influence sustainability of piped water supplies in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state?
  4. How does technology influence sustainability of water supply in Maiduguri/Jere, Bornu state?




Management Approaches and sustainability of piped water supplies

Management of water supply schemes can take various forms or approaches. A completed project can be managed by the community (through a water committee), the government, a private entity, or the community partnering with the private

2.2.1  Community management model

According to (Schouten & Moriarty, 2005), community management approach is aimed at strengthening the capacities and willingness of the community to take ownership and responsibilities of managing their water supply system. The cornerstone of community management states that; if communities are involved in decision-making it will result in equitable supply of services derived from community empowerment (UN, 2009/a).

Community Management (CM) has become a major subject in the design of rural water supply and sanitation projects throughout the developing world. For many years, community participation has been considered as vital for management of water and sanitation development projects, especially in rural sector. There have evolved different forms of community participation over the past few decades. For rural water supply, the prominent model is community management service model (WEDC, 2003). Community management has achieved wide spread acceptance and majority of rural water supply and sanitation projects all over Sub-Saharan Africa are currently applying it (IRC, 2003). Community management is evolved as an NGO- or donor-driven model for time-bound pilot projects. This model may play under the leadership of government with community institutions to scale up the rural water supply delivery with the support from local and national government structures (Schouten & Moriarty, 2004). Community management as a demand driven community-led approach incorporates participatory method and decentralization strategy to successfully deliver rural water supply services better than supply driven government-led models (Lockwood, 2004). It is argued that CM can improve efficiency, meet the target of the project within planned budget and enhance sustainability of rural water management (Mazango & Munjeri, 2009).

The basic assumptions of community management allow beneficiary community to develop, own and operate and maintain their facilities or systems (Harvey & Reed, 2007). Additionally, it plays important roles during the planning and implementation phases (WEDC, 2003). According to Harvey & Reed (2007), development stages of community management for water supply are; water committee formation, training and capacity building, Setting and collecting water tariffs and management and /or implementation of O&M activities of the system.

The core value of community management is to empower and equip communities to take control of their own development (Doe & Khan, 2004). However, community management encounters a lot of challenges. First, it cannot work successfully due to absence of right configuration of markets, government institutions and tradition (Kleemeier, 2000; Kleemeier, 2010). Second, a sticky problem with the volunteer based community management of water supply is that community-level committee and care taker lose their interests or trained individuals move away, community never feel as owners of the new infrastructure (Carter et al., 1999). Third, sustainable rural water supply projects in developing countries face several threats. For instance, dependency on community spirit becomes weaker with the modernizing influences such as increased mobility through infrastructure development, more off land employment access, industrialization, rural urban drift, increased wealth, materialism and individualism which erode the traditional structures and values. Moreover, bureaucracies of government structures in developing countries which are not suitable for community management approach (Carter et al., 1999). Fourth, this management model is also fraught with types of constraints-internal and external. Internal constraints include poverty, strong traditions, misplaced priorities and unfavorable settlement patterns within the rural milieu. External constraints noted are beyond the control of rural communities that include time constraints and sectoral development plans by External Support Agencies (Laryea, 1994). Fifth, community participation is identified as a tool for water and sanitation projects for short to medium term success (Carter et al., 1999). Doe & Khan (2004) recommended community management for smaller rural communities in which community will be involved actively. Community management model, albeit runs smoothly at the initial stage, problems begin within 1-3 years after the commissioning of systems leading to the breakdown of management system (Harvey & Reed, 2007). Moreover, Harvey & Reed (2007), identified the causes for breaking of management system which are dependency on voluntary input, lack of incentives for community members, absence of appropriate replacement policy for committee members, lack of transparency, accountability and lack of regulations, lack of legal status and authority of the water committee, absence of liaison with local government institutions, and inability to replace the major capital items. Most of the community managed water supply schemes run with acute financial shortage as this management cannot collect tariff from the beneficiary efficiently (Whittington et al., 2009).

In addition to all of these problems, Kleemeier & Narkevic (2010) have described elabourately the problems of community management approach. Significant problems include the impossibility of being able to predict funding from one year to the next. As a result it becomes very difficult to make even short term sector planning, Poorer, dispersed, and less organized communities, in most of the cases with minimal or no follow up after construction. Dramatic drop of management capacity of local water committee over the time as the people lose their interest. This is because even though, initially committee members are trained extensively, there is no provision/ option to skill upgrading, or replacement when those who are trained move away, spotty cost recovery for operation  and  maintenance;  if  too  much  raised,  attract  misuse  by those in office, otherwise more often too little is collected which cannot meet the expenses of repair when needed. These technologically complex system or large number of customers, operations and maintenance become challenging, recuperation of investment cost ideally stops fully once an upfront payment  has been made,  availability  of spare parts,  trained manpower and tools are scarce for major repairs resulting in the infrastructure sitting idle for long period of time.

2.3       Community Participation and sustainability of water supply

According to Macqueen (2001), a community is a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings (Macqueen, 2001). Long-term sustainability of projects is closely linked to active, informed participation by the poor. The present obstacles to people’s development can and should be overcome by giving the populations concerned the full opportunity of participating in all the activities related to their development. (Munoz et al, 2008).

Generally, the way community perceive the projects funded by development partners is very essential for their sustainability. When the community feels that the water projects within their locality is owned by them and not the partner, it leads to high association with projects and potential sustainability of the project. For projects to be sustainable, they must originate from the community’s needs and prioritization which assures them that their opinions are valued and therefore develop positive attitudes towards the projects. Participation is a process through which stakeholders’ influence and share control over development initiatives and the decisions and resources which affects them. It is a rich concept that means different things to different people in different settings. For some it is a matter of principle, for others a practice, and still for others, an end in itself. Experience has demonstrated that people can devise their own alternatives if they are allowed to make their own decisions (Bhatnagar, 1992). Community participation by social groups, both men and women, should be in all project phases. This should be from planning, designing, constructing and managing the water supply system and in the operation and maintenance of the services. Community participation gives planners a more thorough understanding of local values, knowledge and experience, it wins support for project objectives and fosters community assistance in local implementation, and it helps resolve conflict over resource use. Community participation occurs when a community organizes itself and takes responsibility for managing its problems. Taking responsibility includes identifying the problems, developing actions, putting them into place and following through (Advocates for Youth, unpublished data from Burkina Faso, 2001).

According to Water AID, (2009) a study which attempted to relate the degree of community participation in rural water supply projects with their subsequent effectiveness and their continuing sustainability, consistently showed that beneficiary participation was more significant than any other factor in achieving functioning water systems. Carter & Rwamwanja, (2006) argues that in cases where the best principles of community participation are taken seriously and implemented effectively then solid foundation for subsequent sustainability is provided. World Bank, (2010). According to Doe & Khan, (2004) if community members are involved in planning, implementation and maintenance of their water supply system, the infrastructure can be sustained more easily.

Community contribution in any form in project development is very critical for the ownership and sustainability. Contribution may be in terms of cash, locally available materials, both skilled and unskilled labour .Gine & Perez-Foguet (2008) conclude that community participation has gained widespread acceptance as a prerequisite for sustainability; but community management has not. Achieving full and effective community participation in development activities is not easy and a lot depends on the way that field workers, extension workers or technical consultants approach the community. Most projects fail to meet their objectives because the intended beneficiaries failed to change behavior or attitudes that are critical to the projects’ success. One critical factor that many costly facilities fall into disrepair has been the failure to mobilize the will of the people.

A study carried out by in Tanzania by Water-Aid to relating the degree of community participation in rural water supply project with their subsequent effectiveness and continued sustainability showed that beneficiary participation was more significant than any other factor in achieving functioning water systems (WaterAid, 2009).

In South Africa community participation was generally found to be more successful when the community was involved in all phases of the project cycle that include planning, designing, implementing, maintaining, supervising and evaluating new water supplies (Twala, 2001). In the early 1980s, South African Communities had little say in the provision of water and decision making processes leading to failure of most projects as a result of lack of community involvement in the implementation of the cycle process. However, when community groups were involved in subsequent projects, they were done to completion with members exhibiting ownership and providing security for facilities hence sustaining them (Twala, 2001).

2.4       Finances and sustainability of water supply

Sustainability of water supply today invariably depends upon communities taking financial responsibility for their schemes, which if achieved will enable scarce resources from government and donors to be targeted specifically on areas where there is no water supply.

Financial factors that contribute to sustainability of a water supply system include efficient revenue collection, the ability to meet the cost of operation and maintenance and the willingness to pay for the services. According to World Bank (2007) evaluation report, sustainability of water supply projects can only be ensured if tariffs generate enough resources to operate the system and replace the infrastructure after its useful life.

Financial sustainability includes among others tariff setting, revernue collection, action against payment defaulters, proper book keeping and cost recovery(WSP,2010). Finances Are needed for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) to keep the sysstem functioning.

A study of water systems in Western Nigeria by SNV (Netherlands) mentioned the poor governance and mismanagement of collected revenues by local water committees as a main cause for the low cost recovery (Tertiary Interational, 2012).

In a review of literature on willingness to pay for water services in low income countries by Merret (2002), different factors are mentioned which contribute to low willingness to pay. These include hard economic life such that households take greatest care over their household expenditure, existence of a widely held view that certain public services should be free, politicians giving support to non-payment, poor quality of public services, corruption by government officials such that payment for public services are known to line the pockets of the power elite and unwillingness of government or the public water utility to exercise sanctions against non-payment because of the likely political or public health consequences.

According to Cardone & Fonseca, (2003), a water system is regarded as being financially sustainable if there is a full recovery of all costs. After system construction, these costs are not only the costs for operation and maintenance but also other costs such as external government support. For a water service to be financially sustainable, the total costs should match with the total available money. More specific principles are given in the WHO training package for O&M of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Systems (Brikke’, 2000). These include identifying the cost implication of the projects characteristics and the environment, maximizing the willingness to pay, clarifying financial responsibilities, optimizing O&M costs, setting an appropriate and equitable tariff structure, developing an effective financial management and organizing access to alternative financial sources.

Baumann (2006) stated that the inability of communities to collect sufficient revenue for repairs could reduce the life expectancy of installed water supplies. Most rural supplies serve poor communities. The question of whether such communities are actually able to pay for O&M of low cost technologies is often raised, but research suggests that willingness to pay is a more important issue than ability to pay (Harvey et al., 2003). Purchase of spare parts for supply in rural water supply is one of the weak links in the quest for sustainability. According to Baumann (2000) hardly anywhere has there been satisfactory spare parts distribution. In Uganda for example, sustainability of rural areas is undermined by technical issues such as spare parts supply, mechanics and social ones that includes users’ roles.

Mommen & Nekesa, (2010) argue that most users of rural water supplies are relatively poor and not able to pay for water service without external support. External support available to communities can be from NGOs, national and local government institutions, as well as the private sector (Carter, 2009). In recognizing that communities cannot autonomously manage services, Gine & Perez-Foguet (2008) call for appropriate institutional support where governments don’t neglect their responsibilities to train technicians, encourage and motivate communities, as well as monitor service performance.

The cost of water supply should be such that it is affordable for the community targeted to be served. If it is costly, the target population will revert to using unimproved water sources or reduce their quantities thereby increasing the health risk. This means an adequate tariff should be set for recurrent costs.

2.5       Theoretical Framework

This research adopted the System Environments Theory of Community Development by Andy (2000). The author argues that although Rural Community Development is a very complex activity with so many elements involved that it seems almost impossible to describe sustainable development in a clear and organized manner, there is a method which can be used to identify many of the components and processes involved in sustaining works that are assembled for their well-being. This way of organizing information has been called System Theory. They draw their argument from General System Theory and others, who provide an analytical framework which can be used to describe some of the many factors involved in sustainable community development.

Some of the key concerns in sustainable community development, such as understanding the dynamics of inter-group relationships, and considering the changes involved in planning development activities, can be understood and described using System Theory. Terms such as systems and sub-systems, closed and open systems, system boundaries, the transfer of energy or influence across boundaries, feedback and system balance (or homeostasis) can be used to clarify what sometimes seems to be a bewildering array of information involved in community development work.



Summary of findings

The results of the study were discussed based on the objectives of the study and the themes that were identified around the issues discussed in the literature review, which were guided by the research questions. Quotes from the interview transcripts were used to substantiate the themes.

The findings of the study showed that the water supply project members did not participate in the planning and decision to construct their water supply project. The government played a significant role in the establishment of the projects without the involvement and participation of the user communities.

The study also revealed that the projects were not being managed adequately hence were not performing optimally. The results also showed that most community members did not participate during the planning phase of the project cycle. During the implementation of the majority of the water supply community did not contribute anything, a few participated through provision of local and unskilled labour and contribution of cash. This was mostly out of ignorance. Sensitization and mobilization of communities was not adequately done by the planners and implementers of the project.

The findings further revealed that community members did not play any role in the choice of the site and technology for the projects. This was mostly done by implementers without involving the communities. It revealed that gravity fed water supply schemes are easier and cheaper to maintain as compared to pumping schemes. It also revealed that the choice of technology whether gravity fed or pumping was dependent on the topography/landscape of the area.

The findings of the study also showed that most of the water supply project beneficiaries earn more than Ksh5000 is sufficient to provide for their families needs and also meet other basics services e.g. payment for water services. The water tariffs set are fair and affordable but people are not willing to pay the user fees because they are not satisfied with the services offered. This contributes to financial unsustainability of water supply schemes

According to the study, most of the water supply schemes have water management committee but insufficient skills and knowledge to manage the water supply schemes remains a challenge and contributed to the unsustainability of the projects.


The government was the dominant implementer of water projects in Maiduguri/Jere. Both state and non-state actors utilized similar approaches in sensitizing the community and managing political interference. However, state and non-state actors differed in their community mobilization approaches where the former preferred local leaders while the later preferred local administrators. Reasons for project failure differed across the implementers with limited funds and poor management being key to failure of state projects while political interference for non-state actors. Community participation was vital to the success of the projects across the implementer divide.

Community members were not in the forefront of initiating projects in the L.G.A. Government actors and community members were not actively involved in site selection.

Community members were also not actively involved in construction/development of the project. Contribution by community members was not adequate and was normally in form of cash and casual labour. Poor participation by community members in the project was noted at the planning and design stages.


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