To assess the performance of the current Community Based Management Systems (CBMS) in maintenance of rural water facilities in Rakai District
Ssentaba, Simon James
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Problems with the operations and maintenance of water supply and sanitation have long been recognized as key constraints of the sustainability of water services. In Uganda today, the operations and maintenance of Rural Water Facilities (RWF) are largely based on the Community Based Management Systems (CBMS), which emphasizes community responsibility and authority over operations and maintenance of their water facilities. This study concerned itself with assessing the performance of community based management systems in maintenance of rural water facilities taking Rakai District as the case study. The methodology consisted of administering a questionnaire to 267 respondents who included local water users, water user committee members, area pump mechanics, and local council one leadership, Sub-county Community Development Assistants, Health Assistants and hand pump spare parts distributors. A total of 48 safe water points were sampled, comprising of nineteen (19) shallow wells, three (3) springs, twenty five (25) boreholes and one (1) valley tank. Shallow wells had a 73.7% functionality rate, springs 100% functionality rate while boreholes had a functionality rate of 56%. This implied that for future investigation where applicable, technological option of providing safe water by use of protected spring should be given highest priority followed by shallow wells and least borehole as results show that communities found it earlier to maintain spring than boreholes. Unwillingness by community members to make any contribution towards operation and maintenance plus lack of spare parts within the community were noted as the major constraints towards operation and maintenance of water sources, hand pump spare parts were bought from Kampala 200km away. This led to a lot of delay plus increased costs on spare parts due to added transport, which greatly discouraged the communities in repairing their sources. Community managed water points are vulnerable to a range of social, technical, institutional, environmental, financial, monitoring and evaluation constraints. Some of the constraints established in this study are that water committees lack capacities, trained committee members or operators leave (die) the communities and are not replaced on time, women being excluded from decision making though they are the carriers of water to the family, water supply technologies are not sometimes appropriate and are complicated, spare parts are hard to find, absence of transparency in book keeping of collected maintenance fee, misuse of financial resources, political pressure/interference, poor mobilization and poverty among others. The overall conclusion is that although community based management systems of rural water facilities is the best option so far towards sustainability of rural water facilities, little has been done to ensure their performance, they exist in words, absence of a legal framework to enforce CBMS makes it worst. The researcher recommends that; government puts in place a legal framework formalising operations of CBMS, constant sensitization of the user community, availability of spare parts at least at every county level, availing of repair tools to area pump mechanics plus some form of remuneration for the WUC (certificates, exemption from other communal activities, incentives such as a bar of soap per quarter etc) are paramount towards a functional Community Based Management System of rural water facilities. To ensure sustainability of water sources, communities managing their water sources need support from different angles. It is not fair to leave communities by their own after completion of a new water source. Institutional support mechanisms, policies, legislation, proper monitoring and continued capacity building are required to support the functionality of CBMS towards maintenance of rural water sources.