Angola: NGO experiences in water service provision for the peri-urban poor

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The NGO Development Workshop Angola highlights lessons from its support to the construction and management of over 200 urban standpipes, more than 700 hand-dug wells, and the development of local elected committees to manage these standpipes in post-war Angola. It did this by working in collaboration with the water utility and the local authority. Development Workshop uses the stakeholder approach to bring community and state actors together. The approach does not just involve identifying the potential partners or building their capacity but involves bringing them together and helping them to work together. It also involves, repeated face-to-face interaction, so as to achieve a successful outcome and also create trust and an understanding of mutual benefits of working together.

Relying solely on centralized funds from the state budget to maintain local infrastructure in low-income urban areas has proved unrealistic, Development Workshop in Angola reports in a recent paper [1]. The DW experience also shows that the extension of services to the urban poor need not be about securing external finance, but can be achieved through the development of competent, capable, accountable local agencies or utilities that can work with community organisations. Costs are recovered through the payment of water sold at the standposts by users. These standposts are managed by Associations of Water Committees.

The participation of the community in the management of services in order to ensure sustainable services is fundamental. Some local Associations of Water Committees have actually managed to invest their own accumulated capital in the extension of the network supply, through the construction of new standposts and the organisation of management committees.

An inevitable part of developing sustainable basic services that serve the collective good and which people will support and have trust in is the creation of accountable institutions. Peri-urban residents are not averse to the idea of paying for a public water supply, provided that:

* the cost is less than what they pay for water from private water tanks;

* they have some assurance about the quality of the service provided;

* they have some assurance that funds go to sustaining the service.

[1] Cain, A. and M. Mulenga (2009) Water service provision for the peri-urban poor in post-conflict Angola. Human Settlements Working Paper Series Water 8, IIED, London.