Ms. Sonia Rajabova spent much of her life without reliable access to clean drinking water. Her household’s primary source of water was the irrigation canal near her home, and they used buckets and bottles to bring it home. But not anymore.
“Now I have a water stand inside my house,” she says. “All these years we used to fetch water from the river nearby.”
Reliable access to clean, safe drinking water in rural Tajikistan has long been fleeting for many of its residents. Though 95 percent of urban residents enjoy access to centralized water systems, 45 percent of Tajikistan’s rural population has no or limited access to safe drinking water sources. In fact, due to a lack of public investment, 16 percent of rural water facilities are inoperable, while 44 percent are only partially operable. The USAID Rural Water Supply (RWS) Activity, implemented by Chemonics, is helping to increase sustainable rural access to clean water and sanitation to decrease the prevalence of childhood undernutrition, stunting, and other poor health issues currently present in Tajikistan.
In Chorbogh, a village of 3,500 people that previously had a semi-functional water system serving only half the villagers for two hours each day, RWS helped address water challenges in two critical ways: through a public-private partnership (PPP) model for operating rural water facilities and by offering classroom and practical education and training on water safety, usage, and plumbing infrastructure construction and planning to residents.
Through the PPP model, RWS provides the training and support necessary for entrepreneurs and residents in a community to create their own safe, sustainable, and affordable systems for drinking water access. This allows communities to take advantage of private funding and management to fill gaps left unfilled by services from the central government. In Chorbogh, local entrepreneur Mr. Abdurasul Rajabov, who had experience running the previous water system as the director of the local agricultural cooperative, expressed interest in becoming the rehabilitated system’s private operator. RWS worked with local leaders and Mr. Rajabov to assess the current water system, garner support from district and municipal authorities, and to hold public events to gauge residents’ willingness to contribute to a new water system and pay monthly access fees. Once demand was established, RWS assisted authorities with drafting a private service agreement to solidify the PPP, in which the municipality owns the infrastructure, while the agricultural cooperative – under the direction of Mr. Rajabov – will operate the system for the next 10 years. The agreement also defines each party’s responsibilities for the long-term operation, maintenance, and supervision of the system. A newly established Consumer Advisory Board serves as a forum for community representatives to meet with Mr. Rajabov to discuss any issues that may arise in the future and to manage the overall system, reinforcing accountability and transparency for all parties.
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