WASH Management Board Concept: Promotional Steps for Sustainable Service Provision
RVWRMP wants to highlight the importance of sustainable local water governance in World Water Day 2021! Water is the most precious substance for every living thing, and a crucial resource for every citizen. Without water there is no development. The governments need fresh water for keeping the society running. Safe drinking water is a most valuable, basic asset for all people, allowing a good sanitation status and personal hygiene maintenance - these are preconditions for healthy life. Water used for gardening and irrigated agriculture ensures food security and nutrition, and furthermore enable agricultural livelihoods for a significant number of people. Local Governments are therefore striving for improving safe water supply services and water resources management, and this is the case in Nepal, too.
Municipalities for WASH
Rural Municipalities (RMs) play a central role in WASH service delivery and water governance in Nepal. They have executive power to promulgate the policies and regulate the systems. Ultimately, local governments are the permanent structures to look after the sustainability management of development interventions.
RVWRMP Phase III supports the Municipalities in this task and is fully aligned with the restructured local governance system. Project funds flow through RM's budgets and field staff are working directly under the RMs. This cooperation has proved very successful, with the RMs contributing as much as 30% of the implementation investments. RVWRMP has supported 68 Rural Municipalities (RM) in Karnali and Sudurpaschim Provinces since their establishment in 2017, with a focus on 27 Core Areas. Governance support has traditionally involved Water Use Master Plans (WUMP) and Livelihood Implementation Plans (LIP) as the stepping stone for local organizations to lead the preparation and implementation of projects. The Project has also supported local policy development on WASH and GESI themes, implementing as many as 127 formally approved RM policies in 27 RMs (1/2021).
WASH Management Board Concept
A novel way for RVWRMP to support municipalities is by establishing WASH Management Boards (see pictures below). This concept was created by RVWRMP as a possible way forward regarding the sustainability of water supply systems. WASH Boards are the responsible municipal body for WASH planning, supervision of implementation, service delivery and maintenance, and other sector management. The concept was first discussed with the Rural Municipal Executive (RME) bodies in 2018.
The Local Government Operation Act 2074 (2017) Clause 14 gives the mandate for WASH Management Board formation at RM level. Based on the discussion with RME bodies, the WASH Management Directive was drafted and reviewed by Project staff. Finally the draft was shared in workshops with Rural Municipality Chairs and Chief Administrative Officers of core working RMs. The concept was praised and the draft was finalised and circulated to the RMs for final approval. Finally, the directives were approved by all 27 core RMs during FY 2076/77 (2020-2021).
WASH Management Boards are currently being formed and oriented. Once formed, they will meet formally based on need. Rapid assessment of the water supply schemes has also been done in order to get the functionality and sustainability status. WASH Management Boards have prepared the scheme repair and service level improvement plan for FY 077/78 proposing some support from RVWRMP. UCs are being registered in the RMs and DWSS has provided training on NWASH.
The WASH Management Board concept has been shared with the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DWSS). DWSS has been moving ahead to prepare the WASH Plan at Rural Municipal level. Thanks to a positive reception, DWSS is showing increasing interest to collaborate the WASH Management Boards to prepare WASH plans in RVWRMP working RMs.
Based on RVWRMP experiences in the RMs, the WASH Management Board concept could very well work as a national approach and it could be replicated in the whole country. Sharing of successes and lessons learnt between RVWRMP and DWSS is being planned.
Main Features of WASH Management Board Concept:
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Management Board is established at the RM-level to lead water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector related policy making, planning and budgeting, coordination, implementation, monitoring and reporting within the RM. RME can decide the structure the board. In most of the cases, RM chairperson is leading the board.
WASH Unit is established at RM level, which is nominated as secretariat of the Board. The Unit is entirely responsible for the decisions on support and implementation made by the WASH Management Board. RM should provide the adequate office space for WASH units along with equipment and furniture for regular office operation. RM should assign a RM WASH Unit Chief and/or WASH Focal Person from the RM's existing permanent staff, and contract permanent or temporary staff for the RM WASH Unit as required by the annual work plans and budgets.
User Committee Network is to be formed at the RM-level to represent all UCs within the RM boundaries. RM WASH Unit should facilitate to establish the network which should operate independently as not affiliated with any political party or local government staff. It is mandatory to all UCs to be a member of this network. This network advocates on behalf of UCs in the RM. Chairperson of the network is a member of WASH Management Board.
Rural Municipality Level Water Supply and Sanitation Scheme Repair Fund is to be established in the RM. It includes all the repair and maintenance works of water supply schemes. This fund will support those schemes which meet minimum managerial criteria of operation and maintenance (O&M) management of the scheme. RM will allocate the budget for the fund every year.
Ward Offices are responsible as contact points for WASH Management Boards because ward offices are the closest contact point for UCs. Ward offices should collaborate with the RM-WASH Unit to ensure that all of their UCs are identified, registered and included in the RM WASH MIS. UCs should report their functional and management status to the ward offices. Based on the reports received from the ward offices, the RM WASH Unit compiles and updates the WASH MIS accordingly. Ward committee members shall regularly monitor the functionality, as well as the operation and maintenance status of the schemes within the Ward.
RM WASH MIS is to be established at RM level. In this line, the system is synchronized with Ministry of Water Supply, Kathmandu. In order to initiate the task, an MoU has been signed with Department of Local Infrastructure (DoLI) and Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DWSS). As per the MoU, actions are already moved ahead. The RMs will have access to the NWASH MIS.
Affiliation with Cooperatives is a mandatory provision in the WASH Management Board concept. In order to proliferate operation and maintenance fund and get O&M and other WASH management services from cooperative, UCs are being encouraged to be shareholder of reliable cooperative and deposit their O&M fund in the cooperative.
Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation has been considered as a tool to ensure the functionality & sustainability of the water supply schemes, total sanitation status and access WASH services of menstruating women/girls. UCs are supposed to report to the WASH Unit through ward offices during the first quarter of each Nepali fiscal year. The reported status is monitored by WASH Management Board during the first monitoring. Second monitoring happens 6 months after the first monitoring. In connection to the operation and maintenance management, each UC is evaluated based on the verified report of the UCs.
Rewarding the UCs as per the evaluation on operation and maintenance management is incorporated in the WASH Management concept. In order to encourage and motivate UCs for operation and maintenance management of the water supply schemes, the top scoring UC in each ward and the top scoring UC in the RM will be rewarded.
Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals in line with goal 5, 6 and 10 is stated in the WASH Management Directive.
WASH Management Boards for future
The Project sees the WASH Management Boards as a crucial step towards sustainable management of the water supply and sanitation sector. The concept also improves the municipality's ability to provide services to the citizens. WASH Boards are able to bring together relevant stakeholders for integrated management of water resources and they have both mandate and means to plan, implement, supervise, and monitor the sector in a successful manner. At the same time, municipalities still need policy development support, institutional capacity development support, and technical training. RVWRMP provides support to all these levels as long as possible to ensure sustainable WASH management in the future.