Aguaconsult is providing pro bono inputs to the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) and is co-lead on the Sustainable Services thematic group along with UNICEF. The Sustainable Services theme of RWSN brings together sector professionals with an interest in sharing, understanding and defining management and support arrangements. The theme builds on previous work done within RWSN, including work on the supply chains for spare parts and the development of frameworks for operation and maintenance. We are embarking on an exciting new strategy in 2021 to identify and engage with groups from the global south directly involved in service delivery, including:
- Rural and small water system operators and maintenance providers (private, public, community etc.)
- Associations of operators and water users.
- Local government service authorities and regulators and the lead technical staff.
These actors are critical to achievement of the SDG6.1 target but they are difficult to reach from a global platform. Engagement strategies may therefore focus on country or regional level initiatives. Other actors, such as development partners, NGOs, donors and researchers have the potential to strengthen these operational actors and their enabling environments. Late last year we co-hosted a webinar in both English and Spanish on regulation of rural water services, with participation from governments from Colombia, Ghana and the Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation Regulators Association (ESAWAS). One common experience – and a challenge – to learn from is how to reach and engage with the hundreds and thousands of scattered small operators, who in some cases are reluctant to enter a formal relationship with the regulator; the consensus is to start with a light touch, or 'differential' regulation with support for the operators and not just punitive measures which may drive them away. See the recordings of the webinar here.