Self Supply is defined as user investment in household water treatment, supply construction or up-grading, or rainwater harvesting. It is based on incremental improvements in steps which are easily replicable, with technologies affordable to users. Such improvements provide safer, more convenient and reliable water to many of those who live in dispersed households or on the periphery of inadequate or unreliable services. These are often the poorer and harder-to-reach members of society.
Self Supply, stepwise improvement of water sources, user investment, user finance, low cost technologies, enabling environment, private sector, sustainable financing mechanisms, monitoring, multiple-use
Technical, institutional, financial
Private household initiatives are widespread globally, providing 14% of rural water coverage in countries as diverse as Ghana and the United States and as much as half of rural supply used in most of sub-Saharan Africa, and large parts of South Asia.
Household investment is facilitated by support services in many developed countries, but its potential contribution has largely been unrecognized in developing countries and so necessary services are largely missing and technology levels low. Accelerating private investment by building up such services helps more people to benefit, and to reach supply levels counting towards coverage.
Accelerated Self Supply (ACCESS) does not provide infrastructure but develops an enabling environment which encourages greater and more effective private investment through four supporting ‘pillars’:
- a range of appropriate technologies and technical advice,
- a strengthened private sector proficient in technical and marketing skills
- micro-finance for individuals (often linked to productive use)
- supportive government policy encouraging private initiatives
With these pillars established, the process becomes self sustaining. The private sector and households become the driving force, government and NGOs acting in advisory and supportive roles.
RWSN is the main driver of ACCESS supporting research and policy dialogue since 2005. Many lessons are still to be learned and more advocacy is required to allow ACCESS to become a globally accepted and supported approach.
Accelerating Self Supply is applicable in both developed and developing countries, and particularly in rural areas with dispersed population (which constitute an increasing proportion of the remaining unserved). Self Supply is also common in suburban or urban areas providing household water-treatment for drinking water and cheaper water for non-drinking purposes.
Accelerating Self Supply involves national and local government, the private sector and households. In the long term the main actors are small scale-households and SMEs, which may be why it largely remains unrecognized and little documented. They are the backbone, but to establish an enabling environment for them to progress faster requires catalytic initiatives by external agencies (e.g UNICEF,WSP, RWSN) to make governments aware of the potential of this additional approach and then seed investment for governments to develop models appropriate to local political, physical and socio-economic conditions and take them to scale.
NGO often play an important role as implementer and facilitator. The investment in infrastructure is funded by the users themselves.
ACCESS then becomes largely self-sustaining. As for community supplies the monitoring on the ground is in the responsibility of the local government. The national government should monitor and support the enabling environment.
RWSN linking to UNICEF, WSP, WaterAid and national governments has built up ACCESS in the four countries Ethiopia, Mali, Uganda and Zambia since 2006, based on lessons learnt locally and on experiences of Nicaragua and Zimbabwe (increased national coverage by 24-35% in 7 years). All pilot countries have now incorporated ACCESS into their national strategies and are developing ways to go to scale, pointing the way for other countries to follow.
ACCESS is fast evolving into an accepted service delivery model for water supply, but there are still gaps in knowhow and documentation.
Self Supply provides the sustainable approach for water supply services for rural areas, where conventional community water supplies are not sustainable or not adequate, eg. in remote areas and areas with dispersed populations. In these situations per capita capital and recurrent costs rise sharply. Since public funding is already inadequate for conventional supplies, they tend to get by-passed in favor of those easier to cover. Sustainable solutions at community level are also vulnerable where there is easy access to cheaper alternative sources which can be developed at household level, and accelerated to acceptable levels.
Accelerating household investment can reduce public sector costs (e.g. Uganda 85%, Zambia 67-75% reduction) and improve sustainability. Individually owned and managed supplies tend to function more reliably and allow continued up-grading and greater potential for income generation.
RWSN ensures documentation of strategic models developed, technology options, training materials, and impact of ACCESS initiatives. Working on global level also with development organisations including UNICEF and governments RWSN will be raising awareness for Self Supply and endorsing Self Supply to become part of national strategies. Guidelines and documentation on good and improved practices (e.g. technical solutions, financial mechanisms) will be developed for local private sector (especially masons and mechanics), on business development, marketing, accounting and advocacy and information for local governments.
On a local level households and institutions can take informed decisions on best solutions for their investment in water supply. Local government promote Self Supply and monitor and document ongoing activities.
1. JMP includes indicators of incremental improvement in water supply by 2015
2. Four target countries (Ethiopia, Mali, Uganda, Zambia,) show 10% increase in RWS coverage through household investment by 2015
3. Four more countries adopt ACCESS into their RWS strategies by 2015 and include technical support to private investors
4. Major multilaterals include ACCESS as a service delivery model option in their strategies by 2015 and promote it to recipient countries
5. Micro-finance agencies in at least 8 countries incorporate household water supply as an investment option and show significant up-take
Primary target group of Accelerating Self Supply are the households as user of the improved water sources and the private sector, who provide services to the households and can generate income. Household also benefit from Accelerating Self Supply as they can use their improved water sources for multiple uses such as productive use in agriculture which contributes to income generation and improvement of food security. As Self Supply is focusing on household water sources any effort to support Self Supply will contribute to support women and girls in their daily life. In terms of a pro poor perspective, Self Supply might need some complementary measures to really reach the poorest of the poor.
As secondary target group national and local governments are interested in supporting Self Supply as coverage will be increased within their territory by household initiatives and investment. User investments decrease the amount of government investments needed for the water supply sector.
In terms of institutional context Accelerating Self Supply works best where there is a local private sector capable to provide services and where there are local government and NGOs, who can support Self Supply e.g. by building up an enabling environment and training local entrepreneurs.
In terms of geographical distribution, Accelerating Self Supply works in all regions, particularly in regions with a rather high groundwater table or where there is a decent amount of rain fall.
In order to start Accelerating Self Supply in a country there is set of investments and requirements which have to be in place as preconditions:
1. High level political will and support on national level to support Self Supply as one service delivery model for water supply,
2. Resources in terms of at least two to three persons in the leading Ministry to follow up and monitor pilot studies and activities for Self Supply on the ground,
3. Sufficient reliable funding from government and external donors to keep activities going,
4. Human Capacities in the private sector and also within NGOs and other institutions such as academia to further develop technical solutions, to provide services and to follow up activities,
5. A framework of institutions and regulations which allow households a sustainable financing of self supply investments in their own water supplies.
Based on the experiences on Accelerating Self Supply in the field so far, the average cost per capita for self supply options such as rehabilitation of springs including training are between 4-8 US$ which is much lower as for many conventional water supplies, in particular in remote areas.
The approach of Accelerating Self Supply was inspired by field evidence in Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, where ongoing promotion of low cost technologies led to a remarkable improvement of coverage in rural areas. Additional support came from national governments such as Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda, Ministry of Health in Zambia and other actors involved in Accelerating Self Supply, such as SDC, WSP, IRC in Ethiopia, WaterAid in Zambia or Unicef in Mali.
Key institutions to support Accelerating Self Supply are UNICEF, WHO, WSP, World Bank, AfDB and WSSCC. They should endorse Accelerating Self Supply as complementary service delivery approach for water supply and integrate it in their strategies, policies and recommendations. Also leading development partners in the field of rural water supply should integrate Accelerating Self Supply in their programs too.
Accelerating Self Supply is one of four themes within the RWSN strategy for the next 3 years and will be one key topic at the 6th RWSN Forum. The RWSN membership will then endorse a vision on rural water supply which includes Accelerating Self Supply as one service delivery model. According to the RWSN action plan for Accelerating Self Supply closer links will be established with the key institutions such as AfDB and WHO and Self Supply should be presented at high level meetings such as Stockholm Water Week.
Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN)
Accelerating Self Supply Theme Coordinators:
Dr Sally Sutton
14 Kennedy Road, Shrewsbury
Shropshire SY3 7AB, UK
Tel 0044(0)1743 351435
Vadianstrasse 42, CH-9000 St. Gallen,
phone: +41 71 228 54 54
RWSN Strategy 2012-2014 (Draft, Version 4)
Danert K and Sutton S (2010) Accelerating Self Supply: A Case Study from Uganda 2010, Rural Water Supply Network Field Note No. 2010-4, Available on http://www.rwsn.ch/documentation/skatdocumentation.2011-02-17.7706943265/file
Sutton S (2010a) Accelerating Self Supply: A Case Study from Mali 2010, Rural Water Supply Network Field Note No. 2010-1, Available on http://www.rwsn.ch/documentation/skatdocumentation.2010-07-08.8626051754/file
Sutton S (2010b) Accelerating Self Supply: A Case Study from Ethiopia 2010, Rural Water Supply Network Field Note No. 2010-2, Available on http://www.rwsn.ch/documentation/skatdocumentation.2010-09-21.6215954950/file
Sutton S (2010c) Accelerating Self Supply: A Case Study from Zambia 2010, Rural Water Supply Network Field Note No. 2010-3, Available on http://www.rwsn.ch/documentation/skatdocumentation.2010-05-31.8746646807/file
Sutton S (2011) Accelerating Self Supply: Summary of progress in introducing a new approach Rural Water Supply Network Field Note No. 2011-2, Available on http://www.rwsn.ch/documentation/skatdocumentation.2011-02-18.4757407550/file
Additional documents can be downloaded from www.rwsn.ch