Making water supply counts really count


News

Improving access to water supply requires accurate and reliable data on existing water points – and whether they work or not. However, ways of collecting such data on a national scale must match Cambodia’s challenging context.

SNV has been working with the Provincial Department of Rural Development (PDRD) in Kampot Province to improve upon rural water supply inventory methods that have been used for nearly a decade. A preliminary meeting was held in August 2014 to gather perspectives on the old inventory methodology from PDRD, district, commune, and village government officials.  Together, the group developed an understanding of how things work at the moment; identified what information is actually important for planning; and discussed the financial and logistical constraints.

It is common for village chiefs to oversee more than 25 public and private water supplies per village. In Kampot Province, each District Rural Development Officer personally visits each village chief to gather the data needed. What the village chiefs report from their personal knowledge is often inaccurate and out-dated, but there is no time or budget to visit all water supplies.  The survey also fails to include important information on whether the supply is able or unable to provide water, and why.

Once the situation was understood, SNV and PDRD Kampot worked to revise the methodology. Together they produced an inventory manual to outline clear roles and responsibilities and standardise field data collection forms. Under the revised methodology, village chiefs will continue reporting water supply data, but a small daily allowance will be provided to cover their transportation costs and ensure they can visit all the water supplies and complete the inventory form properly. The inventory form now includes information on functionality levels, number of users, status of the water user committee, and drinkability of the water supplied. 

An inventory summary form was also drafted to allow village chiefs to summarize the totals for each data field – for example, the total number of dysfunctional wells. Once completed, this inventory summary form is submitted to the commune council and subsequently on to the district council. The District Rural Development Officers then collect all the forms from the district and report to PDRD who reports on to the Ministry of Rural Development to compile national totals. This way, with SNV’s support getting all the right data in place, it’s more likely the government can direct money to where it’s needed.

At the national level, Cambodia’s Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) periodically requests all 25 provinces to collect inventory data on various types of water supply and pump types including dug wells, tube wells (fitted with VN6 or Afridev pumps), community ponds, and large rainwater storage systems. Despite these formal requests, no formal budget is allocated and PDRD offices must find funds for this on their own. There are also no standard guidelines, methodologies, or data collection forms; each of the PDRD offices collect the data the best way they can using their own internal resources.