Collectively, billions of dollars have been invested in the provision of rural water supply systems in developing countries over the past three decades. This period has also seen an evolution in thinking and practice around the approaches to delivering water supply to rural populations. We have moved from supply-driven centralised government programming to more demand-driven approaches, based on the philosophy of community participation with community-based management emerging as the principal management vehicle from the 1980s onwards in most countries. In more recent years there has been a call to build on community management with more structured systems of post-construction support and the increasing involvement of local private operators. Global monitoring results tell us that progress is being made and that even including population growth, we are increasing the rate of coverage in many, but not all, countries at a pace that will meet the Millennium Development Goals.
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