W19 Managing water supplies

HygieneWater Supply

There are many different sources of water that can be improved and managed. Safe and accessible water supplies make a huge difference to people’s health and their quality of life. Building rainwater tanks, capping springs and digging wells can all be done by local people. Drilling rigs and piped water will require outside experts and funding.

An elected Water Management Committee could help to make sure that water supplies are well managed and benefit all local people. Water committees should include representatives of community leaders, women, different ethnic or caste groups, and people with technical skills. They can agree reasonable charges, if necessary, in order to pay someone to manage the water supply and maintain water pumps.

Committees should make sure the area around water points is protected from animals and safe for women and children. Planting trees will help prevent soil erosion and keep the area attractive. Drainage channels filled with stones (soakaways) will allow waste water to drain away, rather than allowing pools to collect where mosquitoes and other pests can breed. Drinking areas for animals should be made some distance away. Areas for washing clothes and for personal hygiene should be kept separate from the water supply.


  • What kind of water supplies does our community have access to? Are these supplies adequate? Do women and children spend a lot of time collecting water?
  • In what ways could we improve our water supplies? Is outside expertise and funding needed?
  • What benefits would a water management committee bring? What groups of people should be represented on such a committee? What decisions should they make on behalf of the community?
  • What benefits would there be in employing someone to manage the water supply? How much should they be paid for this work? How could the community pay them?
  • Why should areas for livestock and washing clothes be kept separated from drinking water supplies?
  • Does anyone have experience of building soakaways? Where else might they be useful?
  • Is there a need for washing areas for men and women? What would be needed for these?
  • Do people expect to pay for water supplies? Are there advantages in charging people for water? If so, what is a reasonable price to pay? Would this cover the cost of maintaining adequate water supplies?