Self-supply refers to an approach of incremental improvements to water supplies that are mainly financed by the users themselves (see this Wikipedia entry on Self-supply for more information). Private investment in water supplies (as well as in sanitation) is already substantial and will grow. Self-supply sources have contributed to reaching the MDGs in many countries, and will also contribute to the SDGs. Under this approach neither governments nor NGOs provide direct subsidies for capital investment or for operation and maintenance. The products and services for the improvements are usually provided on a commercial basis by local private enterprises. Under a Self-supply approach the users are in charge for choosing the technology they want, the service level they want and the provider of these products and services.

Self Supply, Zambia (RWSN)

Self-supply as a way of upgrading service levels chiefly financed directly by the users has been going on for centuries. It is particularly strong where public service levels are chronically of poor quality, do not meet public expectations, or in situations where these have collapsed. The concept of “Supported Self-supply” refers to a deliberate set of activities by an actor (or a group of actors) in order to foster mechanisms and an enabling environment for capacity building, promotion and quality control of water supply services, chiefly financed by the users and usually delivered by the local private sector.

A range of technologies are suitable for Self-supply in rural areas. They include hand dug wells and boreholes fitted with pumps, rain water harvesting systems, household water treatment and even piped systems, among others. RWSN’s Self-supply theme looks into past and on-going processes of Self-supply and Supported Self-supply, with the goal of analysing and documenting them. It is essential that efforts by water users themselves to improve their water supplies are better understood and acknowledged, so that this approach can be strengthened and applied where most appropriate. Moreover, the theme aims to establish Supported Self-supply as a recognised service delivery option for rural water supplies by government agencies, development and implementing partners and water users, and it wants to foster its application where appropriate.

Theme Objective: The potential and limitations of Supported Self-supply as a service delivery approach for rural water supply is understood and recognized by government agencies, development partners, water users and other key actors. The approach of Supported Self-supply is applied where appropriate.


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