Swajaldhara:Ensuring adequate water supply in India

The Department of Drinking Water Supply (DDWS), Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India (GOI) supplements the efforts of the states in their strive towards providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygienic education to the rural population through central programmes like Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP), Swajaldhara, Total Sanitation Campaign and state programmes like Minimum Needs Programme (MNP). Primarily the approach of attaining universal coverage was based on target driven norms and was allocation based, being implemented by highly centralised state government departments. Although the coverage achieved in providing safe drinking water to the entire rural population is appreciable in terms of assets created, which is more than 94%, there is a considerable gap between infrastructure created and service level available to the community.

Realising that the target driven approach is not sustainable, the government introduced the Sector Reform Programme (SRP), which is a paradigm shift from the highly centralised programmes to demand oriented community based programme, in which the community also bears a part of the capital cost of the water supply scheme and takes full responsibility of its operation and maintenance including its recurring costs. This programme was further scaled up in the form of Swajaldhara, which was launched in December 2002. Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) is another important project undertaken by the Govt. of India, in Department of Drinking Water Supply. In 1986, the Government of India launched Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP). However, the CRSP project continued with heavy subsidy and was a supply driven programme. It was in April 1999, that GOI revamped the CRSP and introduced the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC). So far, 398 projects have been sanctioned (covering 398 districts with more than 5 crores sanitation units) in a single scheme alone.

These projects are at various stages of implementation. The enormity of data being handled by the department, poses a monitoring problem for these programmes in absence of computerisation. Earlier the progress of implementation of the rural water supply and sanitation projects, in the various districts was monitored manually. Data in the prescribed formats was sent by post and thereafter, necessary information processing was done manually in order to produce required outputs.

This method was time consuming, heavily reliant on the person dealing with this data and was afflicted with other kinds of problems associated with manual processing. The record keeping related to funding and progress achieved was also not in easily traceable form. As a solution, e-Governance efforts at various levels were timely conceptualised by the department and steps were taken to introduce the infrastructure to promote the basic ICT services utilisation, to begin with, in the ninth five-year plan itself. The development and deployment of an Integrated MIS for all the State Public Health Engineering Departments(PHED) /Jal Nigam or Water Authority or Boards being taken up in a massive way in the Tenth Plan period to facilitate the interaction of these agencies with common man and monitoring exercise.

The monitoring system design methodology
Given the nature of the reform program as a pilot initiative, the monitoring and evaluation system is envisaged to be an institutionalised arrangement in strategic learning and action at community, district, state and national levels.

The basic considerations that have informed the designing of the MIS, includes the reform approach and objectives, learning needs of various stakeholders at the community, district, state and national levels, actual and potential institutional capacity to generate and manage data and time and cost effectiveness of data collection and management