Maharashtra is the first state in the country to launch a major initiative of a state-wide policy for reforming Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in the state. ‘Jalswarajya Project on Rural Water Supply and Sanitation and Aple Pani’ were two programmes which envisaged deepening of decentralization processes up to the lowest level of Panchayati Raj Institutions, so that Gram Panchayats could plan, design, construct and manage their own water and sanitation facilities.
Partnering with the Government of Maharashtra – World Bank, we have built capacitates of a range of stakeholders (District & Block teams, Support organizations, Para-professionals Technical Service Providers and village level communities) from four administrative divisions – Satara, Osmanabad, Yavatmal and Jalgaon as part of these programmes. Further, support in accreditation and monitoring of Support Organizations under next phases of the project was also extended. Two innovative concepts introduced under the project were the development of ‘Paraprofessionals’ and ‘Model villages’. While, the former were introduced to assist village committees, the latter represented an effort to demonstrate learnings from the trainings with 10 and 13 villages selected from Yavatmal and Osmanabad respectively. An aquifer water management project was also implemented under the same project in Jalgaon district with the rationale to organize communities based on the technical rationales of an aquifer.
The vision of the Jalswarajya and Aple Pani projects outlined a new approach to the management of drinking water systems in the country, one based on the active participation and ownership of local communities. Here capacity building efforts helped increase access of rural communities to improved and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services; and contributed to institutionalization of decentralized rural water supply and sanitation service delivery to rural local governments and communities.