THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABLE RURAL WATER SUPPLY: A CASE STUDY IN EAST TIMOR
Over the past three decades community management has been promoted as the answer to sustainability issues of the water supply sector. Following international trends, the government of East Timor adopted this model for the management of rural water supply systems. Despite this, sustainability of water development projects remains an issue.
This study investigates sustainability issues behind community management of a multi-village water supply system in East Timor. Study findings identified the participatory approaches used to implement the system and the lack of clarity of responsibility over management functions, as key elements affecting the systems sustainability.
The study also describes a number of aspects which are relevant for the development of the countrys rural water supply sector in general. It is argued that if the government of East Timor is to adopt the community management model for rural water supply successfully, there needs to be more clarity on what exactly community management means in terms of the functions it involves and responsibility over these.
If community management is to contribute to sustainable rural water supplies, it has to go beyond handing operation and maintenance functions to include control over decision making on how the system should be managed.