ActionAid was selected as a collaborating NGO on a World Bank-supported, Government of Karnataka programme to mobilise community participation in water and sanitation supply. The short article describes "how the village people...will own the project from start to finish". A 'sense of ownership' in the new scheme was instilled by making village communities contribute to the costs, to ensure that they will be prepared to take responsibility for operation and maintenance. NGOs ensure funds are raised and also involve everyone in the village in planning, especially women, scheduled cases/tribes and the poorest. 3 day PRA exercises were conducted, involving Venn diagramming, social mapping, seasonality analysis, water resource mapping and discussion meetings. An example is given of a visual representation of the scheme which created a forum in which to discuss the plans and make modifications. Government officials were willing to listen to villagers and discuss with them, but it is noted that Block and District level officials only attended meetings, so missing a chance to learn. It is hoped that the PRA exercises will be the start of continuing community involvement and sustainability of the programme.
This article will be of interest to those involved in water and sanitation programmes, and in projects collaborating with local governments, especially in India.