Southern Africa Self-supply Study Review of Self-supply and its support services in African countries
A lady in Zimbabwe proudly shows off her onions - watered from her self-supply well
© 2015 André Olschewski • Skat
Project starts: 2015
Project finished: 2016
Collaborators & Partners: UNICEF, Skat
Over the recent decades, in many countries, significant progress has been achieved in improving access to rural water supplies. However, it will be almost impossible to reach universal access by using community supply models alone, as this approach will simply be too costly. For achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring universal access to water for all, new approaches and a shift in mindset and policies are needed.
Supported Self-supply is a very cost effective service delivery approach which is complementary to communal supplies, is aligned with Human Rights principles, supports equity and inclusiveness and achieving several SDGs.
UNICEF and Skat have collaborated on a review of supported Self-supply in Zambia and in Zimbabwe which was conducted in 2015 and reflects on findings from discussions at national workshops in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and from a webinar on supported Self-supply and Human Rights to Water organized by the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN).
Reach and benefits:
- Self-supply is practised by millions of rural households in Sub-Sahara Africa as well as in Europe, USA and other areas of the world.
- Benefits reported from having access to Self-supply water sources include convenience, less time spent for fetching water and access to more and better quality water. In some areas, Self-supply sources offer important added values such as water for productive use, income generation, family safety and improved food security.
- Sustainability of services from Self-supply is high as there is strong ownership by people investing in own sources.
- As Self-supply sources are shared sources, many people, including poor and vulnerable households, benefit from investments in Self-supply, often at no costs. This means that Self-supply can be effective in reaching the hard-to-reach.
- For millions of people in rural areas of Africa, supported Self-supply will be the most cost effective service delivery model to provide access to safe water. This also includes those parts of the population which actually have poor access as they e.g. cannot afford water from communal supplies.
- However, in areas where external support for Self-supply is lacking, only marginal improvements can usually be achieved, and the quality of services is lower than in areas where a dedicated support effort was made.
Costs and business model for supported Self-supply
- In many rural contexts, supported Self-supply is the most cost effective approach for water service delivery. However, as it is not applicable in all contexts, a blended approach combining communal water supply and supported Self-supply models should be followed.
- Based on a Life Cycle Cost (LCC) analysis of different service delivery approaches, the LCC for communal supplies are about 40 US$/capita served in the study countries, whereas the LCC for supported Self-supply is about 10 U$/capita.
- In sparsely populated areas, communal supplies (e.g. handpumps) are even more costly (up to 100 U$/capita served) as only few people can be served with one additional unit. Serving all rural people with communal supply is therefore not financially viable.
- Considering the applicability of Self-supply technologies, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the cost saving of following a blended approach using both communal supplies and supported Self-supply is almost 50% of the total LCC for reaching 100% of the population by 2030. These cost savings are equivalent to more than 330 million US$ in Zambia and more than 260 million US$ in Zimbabwe.
Support services needed
- Supported Self-supply is a service delivery model putting support services in place to improve Self-supply, so it is not about a particular technology.
- Supported Self-supply is aligned with the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, which allows a progressive realisation of the universal access to safe water. However, supported Self-supply is not a way to exempt government from its duties: Government has specific roles to play to ensure that everybody will have access to safe water finally.
- To sustain and to take Self-supply to scale there is need for contextualised support as well as long-term engagement, capacity development at all levels, M&E and technical support, reliable funding and learning and sharing.
- Interministerial cooperation and champions within government agencies are needed to ensure sustainable embedding and for taking Self-supply further, particularly in remote rural areas.
- There is no-one-size-fits-all solution for supported Self-supply – for each programme, it needs a contextualized design and follow-up to achieve desired impact.
- Hygiene promotion, including Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS), is highly recommended for any non-piped water supply services, including Self-supply water sources.
- The huge potential for substantially improving the level of water supply for millions of people in rural areas should be accessed through supported Self-supply. Some countries have endorsed supported Self-supply as service delivery model, such as Zimbabwe or Sierra Leone, and in Ethiopia, Self-supply is now being scaled up at national level.
This Synthesis report summarises the results of a UNICEF funded review of supported Self-supply in Zambia and in Zimbabwe which was conducted in 2015 and reflects on findings from discussions at national workshops in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and from a webinar on supported Self-supply and Human Rights to Water organized by the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN).