"Water and Environment"

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Why GMF is failed to maintain the water infrastructures in rural areas ? (A lesson learnt from Liquica’s rural community water)

Reported by:

Jose Piato
(Aplimentec Community Facilitator)


Maintain a clean water system in rural areas post construction is serious challenges facing by Timor-Leste’s local government (DSAS) and NGOs. The government (DNSAS) policy is currently using GMF (local community water committee) as the main strategy to sustain the water systems in rural sites. In facts, most of GMF is not working properly after the project hand over to the community. GMF in rural areas largely only survive for no longer than 6 months. Other GMF might hold out for 1 year. Then, most of the water infrastructures could not be maintained as consequences.

GMF and issued of failed

Pursuant to local government (DSAS) and NGOs water there are many activities to support GMF during the clean water project's implementation. The activities are included Community Action Plan (CAP), training, capacity building and water equipments donation. Local government and NGOs water is additionally uses the community low cost support as other key strategy to sustain the community water system. Nevertheless it is not working properly till nowadays.

Facts behind the fails

We found there are some facts influence the failed of GMF to maintain the water systems in rural areas. Firstly is less of the local government commitment on maintenances issues. Local government is necessarily has responsibility to main communication, supervision and permanent supporting to GMF post physical construction. However DSAS is not run the responsibility properly. Lots of GMF confessed that they have been lack the communication with DSAS after the project hand over. Fewer communications with DSAS caused most of GMF members forsake their roles and responsibility in local water committee.

GMF also informed that a common problem is facing by GMF when community members stop cooperating even stop their monthly financial supports. Some community even commits illegal connection and breakdown the facilities in addition. The root caused is less coercive water regulation to control the users. The condition get worst when local leaders include Chief of villages and sub villages has no control to support GMF to take coercive actions to illegal water destruction. In the end, GMF lost their way to main the system and totally abandon their responsibility.

Secondly is less of NGOs water in deeply understanding of community problems. Most of NGOs is only focus on finishing the physical activities and timelines. They rush to complete the project based on donors grant contract. NGOs lose their main roles to empower the community in project engagement, self of belonging, resources awareness and sustainability plan. Some NGOs failed to increase community awareness in end of the project.

Government Action Forward

Local government (DSAS) needs to maintain regular communication with GMF. Strengthen ordinary supervision into GMF management on water system. Develop monitoring system to assure GMF performs their roles in maintaining the infrastructures, managing the community financial supports and taking quick action when GMF needed. Conduct monthly and quarterly inspections to GMF organisation that aims to guarantee sustainability of GMF management.

Government of Timor-Leste (Ministry of Public Work under DNSAS) is necessary need to review the water regulation (Decreto-Lei) No 4/2004 in national level. The regulation is out of date and isn’t reflecting the water supply need for community in rural areas. The main issue is to review sustainability and maintenance of water infrastructures. According to us, Government is needed to provide subvention to GMF in order to support infrastructure maintenances in rural site. It is also aims to avoid government yearly over spending for water construction particularly in rural areas.  

NGOs Water approach
NGOs water is necessarily to conduct a deeply assessment on community needs.  Understand community problem and facilitate them on find the solutions. There are some actions that need to considerer:

Training and capacity building. Design a module training that reflect GMF needs such as: GMF finance and administration, GMF job descriptions, GMF technical maintenance, GMF meeting organizing and GMF fund collection. The modules should base on community need assessment. Avoid the module that unnecessary. The capacity building has to ensure the GMF members understand, aware, capable and professionally implemented.  NGOs need to review the training activities to assure the output, outcomes and indicator that have achieved.

Community water regulation. NGOs water needs to have regularly communication with local leaders, community policy, community members and DSAS to discuss the water regulation. Take and involve all parties to have regular discussion, opinion and inputs. Formalize the regulation throughout formal ceremony signing combine with a local traditional law such as “Tara Bandu”. The traditional law is more effective and have coercive impact to maintain the water infrastructures.

Community low cost support. Support and facilitate GMF to conduct an assessment on water users. The assessment based on community household’s funds collection. NGOs facilitate the GMF to conduct door to door socialization.  Informed the community the aim of fund collection, managing the fund, expenses and reports. Support GMF in managing GMF finance and bookkeeping. Accompany GMF during monthly fund collection and its monthly reports to community.

Regularly connecting DSAS and GMF. NGOs have a main responsible to connect an effective communication between GMF and DSAS. That activity is aim to establish effective cooperation and promote regularly meeting between DSAS and GMF. Ensure DSAS has regular site visit, supervision and monitoring GMF activities by monthly and quarterly.

Regular reports to DSAS. NGOs water have a compulsion and responsibility to provide regular and monthly reports to DSAS. It is enable DSAS to have comprehensive information and well informed of a water activity progress. DSAS will use the reports to acts within a collaboration, communication, monitoring, supervision during and post construction.