This case study aims to document the experiences of the Asociación de Usuarios de Agua Potable Challacaba located in the peri-urban District 9 of the Municipality of Cochabamba, Bolivia in developing a community managed water supply system that meets both domestic and productive needs.
The case study concentrates on explaining the key factors that enabled the community to create a users’ association and a sustainable water distribution scheme. There is an apparently self-reinforcing, virtuous-loop between a good low cost water service, productive uses to derive maximize benefits from the water service, improved willingness to pay for the water supply, and an ability to continually invest to maintain and improve the system.
The water distribution system in Challacaba consists of a deep borehole linked to a piped network serving the 435 inhabitants. It offers a high quality, dependable service at very low costs. Water is available 24 hours a day, compared to only 2 hours a day at the nearest point (2 kilometres away) served by the city water supply company SEMAPA. Although there are elevated manganese levels in the groundwater supply, there was no microbial contamination compared to the SEMAPA supply which is not potable. Water is supplied to the members of the system on a metered basis, at a cost of 0.19US$/m3 compared to 0.51US$/m3 for SEMAPAs supply. The study shows that the widespread belief (among professionals not communities) that centralized utilities offer economies of scale in providing water in peri-urban Cochabamba should be questioned.
The initial system was developed in 1980 at a time of drought. Then, 36 households contributed US$100 each to the cost of a borehole fitted with a manual pump. In the following years, the community contributed (US$150 each household) to raise sufficient money to install a piped water system. This was constructed using the services of PLASTIFORTE (a local pipe manufacturing enterprise to which Agua Tuya is linked). In 2005, the community again at their own initiative upgraded the system installing new pipelines and a hydro-tower. The hydro-tower, at a cost of US$2000, maintains adequate pressure in the system at a fracture of the cost of an overhead tank. The number of users has now increased to 60 households.
One of the consequences of a good service with appropriate quality and adequate quantity at low cost is that it is possible for households to use the supply for productive activities, especially raising animals and milk production. Such water-intensive activities generate income and help households to sustain their livelihoods. In total, 44% of the families keep animals and their consumption is 12.9 m3/month (86 lpcd) compared to 9.7 m3/month (65 lpcd) for families without animals. Most of the families with animals (69%) keep cows with an average of 7 each. Other livestock include pigs, sheep and poultry. Milk from dairy production is sold nearby at a price of 0.18US$/litre giving an average income of 269US$ year per cow. Water represents about 1% of the costs of milk production, compared to 15% where families have to buy water from tankers for their livestock.
Taking advantage of their strong community organization, and the well functioning water system, the community has been able to introduce a number of unique elements. Firstly, members are able to borrow money from the water supply committee who operate accounts that are in surplus despite the low water charges. Members can borrow up to US$300 which is then often used for investment in productive activities like dairy farming. Secondly, an additional small monthly fee on the water bill covers burial costs of members. Thirdly, all members receive a hamper at Christmas from the committee. For all these water, and financial services, members still pay considerably less than households connected to SEMAPAs supply.
Factors that reinforce a virtuous loop of sustainability in the service include the strong sense of ownership of the system with active participation in management and decision making, appropriate low cost technology such as the hydro-tower, and appropriate financial models. In this case, all the investment has been made by the system members. Uniquely, the water committee also provides financial services (small loans and burial insurance) to the members.
The community in Challacaba are now planning to drill a second borehole to increase the supply to the system, especially for further productive activities like small gardens ( huertas).
The full report and a presentation (both in Spanish) can be found here
The agricultural sector in Quindio includes coffee, bananas, livestock/ and diary farming as well as increasingly important diversification into tourism related activities. Coffee is not irrigated but requires large volumes of clean water for processing which is usually provided by piped water systems development and operated by coffee growing associations. These also serve domestic users. Technologies exist to reduce water consumption in processing from around 40 litres of water per kilo to coffee to around 1 litre, however these are expensive machines (USD3500). Livestock farming also requires a secure and clean water supply, and tourism increases the ‘domestic’ consumption of farms.
This study is focusing on three farms (coffee, diary, mixed with tourism activities) and the development of technical proposals to improve water use at the farm level. Different water sources are being assessed (quantity and quality) and different water uses (household, livestock, crops) analysed. Wastewater reuse options and solid waste disposal are also being considered. It is planned that the proposals will be implemented by the study farmers with the support of Cinara. At appropriate stages in the study, neighbouring farmers are being asked to comment on the proposals and to identify whether they can also apply some of the interventions.
Overall research question: How do different types of farms utilise water resources and dispose of wastewater, and what improved practices could be adopted to reduce demands and minimise pollution?
About agricultural and domestic use of water in the Quindio region, Colombia. Many aquaducts were built so that the water is available in rural areas.
The attached paper is in Spanish.
This report (in Spanish) synthesizes results of over ten completed projects and theses by students at Cinara on multiple uses of water. It draws out general recommendations for implementing multiple-use services at community-level and upscaling at intermediate- and national level.
The villages of Cajamarca and San Isidro, located in the municipality of Roldanillo in the Cauca Valley of Colombia, are supplied with water from two systems. Both systems are gravity-fed piped water supplies that tap perennial mountain streams. One is primarily for irrigation, and supplies both villages. The other is primarily for domestic use, but only supplies Cajamarca. Both systems, however, are actually used for a combination of domestic and productive uses. They play a vital role in the livelihoods of the 700 people living in the two communities, which as a result, are relatively prosperous. The two systems are managed by the same community-based case studywater organization.
The aqueducto (the domestic system) was developed in two phases (1954 and 1995), both with the external financial investment of the government. The current system includes an intake about 5 km above the valley, a compact treatment plant, storage tank, a pvc piped network, and household connections for all the families in Cajamarca. San Isidro, a newer settlement at higher elevation, is not supplied by the system.
The compact treatment plant is probably not the ideal technology for this community, being costly and difficult to run and the operators have not been trained. As a result, the quality of water supplied by the system is poor. Most people however, express satisfaction with the water quality. Users of the irrigation system in San Isidro boil the water from this system when it is used for domestic purposes, and in fact, the users of the domestic system in Cajamarca may be putting themselves at more risk as they believe this water to be safer (and fewer boil it) when in fact it is not.
The irrigation system that serves both villages and nearly all households, constructed in 1996, is also a piped network with storage and connections (a single time) near the boundary of each farm plot. This system was also built with government investment. Sprinklers are used by most farmers to irrigate profitable horticultural crops like pepper, tomato, and cabbage, although recently some farmers have also adopted drip irrigation. Neither, the domestic nor irrigation system have meters at either household or system level.
Domestic water is supplied at a low, flat-rate tariff of US$2.4 per month. Given the high average rates of consumption (370 liters per person per day when calculated at the treatment plant, however, loses may well be half of this amount and are unknown), this is equivalent to a cost per m3 of US$0.04. Irrigation water is charged according to the size of plot, type of use (including livestock and fishponds) and economic status with an median charge of about US$2.9 which is equivalent to about 0.0043 US$/m3 (based on the average available supply from the system before loses, which again are likely to be large, of 22m3/household/day). Most users believe the tariffs to be fair and affordable, and the default rate on the combined quarterly bills for both systems is low. Users find it easier to pay the quarterly bills matching cycles of their income from irrigated crops. The income from these tariffs is sufficient to cover the operation (including full-time operators for each system, who in practice work together) and maintenance costs, including chemicals for the inefficient treatment plant. Some money is also invested in tree-planting to protect the water supply catchment.
The villages are fortunate to be supplied by two reliable perennial streams, and the communities have undertaken active measures to protect the catchment including planting trees and constructing fences to exclude livestock and prevent stream bank erosion. These catchment protection measures are programmed by the water organization, and are a locally - based initiative rather than being undertaken for the environmental authority which also requires such actions. There are rules that everyone should participate in catchment protection works. People believe that this has led to increased streamflow, and ensured availability of water for the systems. Most catchment protection measures have been undertaken in the catchment of the irrigation system, due to the non-cooperation of the owner of most of the land that forms the other catchment of the domestic system. Further measures taken to conserve water resources include control of irrigation techniques. Farmers are not allowed to use furrow or flood irrigation methods and must use sprinklers or drip to improve irrigation water use efficiency. In summer, access to irrigation water is limited to turns every 3 days.
A single community-managed organization (Asodisriego) now runs both the water supply systems. Originally this organization was just for the irrigation system, but when the domestic system encountered management problems in 1995, the community asked Asodisriego to manage both systems. The same community leaders have been involved in running this organization since mid 1990s, which is both a strength and a weakness. These leaders have developed a strong management capacity, including the ability to make and use linkages at the municipal and department level to secure resources and influence. However, it leaves the system vulnerable to the loss of a few key individuals and thus, potentially compromising future sustainability.
Community members do participate in activities such as catchment protection and in meetings where they are kept informed, however, decision making is in the hands of a few leaders. As they have managed the systems well, most people are satisfied with this situation. Strong leadership has been critical. Despite not having a legal basis for such multiple-use water supply systems and no external support beyond occasional investment in infrastructure, the community have been able to develop their own vision and mode of operation for the systems because of good leadership and trust of the community.
The two water supply systems have some common characteristics. Both supply relatively large volumes of water at low cost. As well as meeting domestic water demands, this has enabled the residents of Cajamarca and San Isidro to develop a thriving agricultural basis to their livelihoods. As well as 99% of the residents being engaged in irrigated agriculture that generates 3 or 4 crops and associated income a year, many are involved in livestock production. Livestock, including raising cows and pigs, are seen as a source of additional income and also savings. Smaller livestock, especially chickens, are common. In Cajamarca, where people have access to both water systems, most people use the domestic system for their livestock because it provides water closer to home where livestock are kept, and because of the perceived better quality. Incomes are very variable, but families may earn between US$80 and 1200 from their cultivation activities alone.
The multiple use water systems in Cajamarca and San Isidro have played a vital role in improving the livelihoods of the residents. Previously they used to grow less water intensive but less lucrative crops like tobacco that were harvested once a year, whereas now they are able to engage securely in year-round irrigation and livestock production. This has helped reduce migration from the village, increase the value of land, and reduce conflicts over previously much scarcer water resources.
The full report is available in Spanish.
Contiene el caso de estudio desarrollado en Cajamarca en el municipio de Roldanillo (Valle del Cauca - Colombia)
Cover page of the proceedings
John Butterworth, Martin Keijzer, Ian Smout and Fitsum Hagos (Eds). Proceedings of the International Symposium Multiple-Use Services; from Practice to Policy. 4-6 November 2008, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Stef Smits, Túpac Mejía, Senia Eben Rodríguez and Damián Suazo: Effects of multiple use of water on the sustainability of rural water supply services in Honduras
The de facto use of rural water supply systems for productive purposes is a practice that has recently received recognition in Honduras. This paper presents the results of a study that tried to further characterise this existing practice in a more structured way through 14 case studies, in particular analyzing its effects on people’s livelihoods as well as on sustainability in service provision. The cases show the nearly universal existence of productive use of rural water supplies, but showed that the extent of the uses and the relative importance in people’s livelihoods differs a lot between different user categories. Although this de facto use of rural water supply systems may bring risks for sustainability in service provision, the cases also showed that a number of relatively simple measures can help in regulating water use. The authors believe that multiple use of water can be accommodated into service provision in such a way that it doesn’t cause negative impacts. [authors abstract]