Ms. Maria Mutagamba, Uganda's Minister for Water and also the chair of the African Ministers Council for Water (AMCOW) last week visited the Ananthapur Drinking Water Supply Project in India, as part of a UN-HABITAT sponsored study visit to Asia, and praised the achievements of the initiative.
The study visit was sponsored by UN-HABITAT’s Water for Cities Programme for sharing of experience and best practices between Africa and Asia. The study visit will also take her to countries in South East Asia. The reforms and innovative practices adopted in these countries could have much relevance to improve the performance of the water sector in Africa.
The project management team described to Ms. Mutagamba how innovative public-private-community partnerships have been used to implement, maintain and manage the project which provides access to more than 1 million poor in 731 villages and 3 towns who hitherto had no safe drinking water supply.
Ananthapur is a semi-arid district in the State of Andhra Pradesh, which is the third poorest state in India. The whole district, with a population of nearly 1.5 million, has been facing extreme shortage of drinking water in its 1,000 villages and towns. This was what led to the implementation of the Sri Sathya Sai Drinking Water Supply Project in 1998.
The project presents a new approach to financing pro-poor investment for drinking water supply both in rural and urban areas. It cost US$ 69 million and took 18 months to implement without any time and cost over-run.
An evaluation of the project carried out by UN-HABITAT and the Asian Development Bank revealed that a very vibrant partnership was still active even six years after the completion of the project. One very positive impact was that girls who were earlier forced to drop out of the school to help their mothers to fetch water several kilometres away could now attend school. By bringing drinking water close to the house of each family, the project also helped the earning members of the family to spend more time on income generating activities.
Another impressive aspect of the project was the strong management information system for continuous monitoring and evaluation of this massive project which helped the team to complete the project within a short time without compromising its professional execution or quality.
Ms. Mutagamba was deeply impressed by the achievements of the project and invited the people including professionals, who have made it possible, to visit Uganda. She said, "I am now convinced that we can achieve the same in Uganda".