Regulation of Community Water and Sanitation (Problematique)
Saturday, July 30, 2016 Mohamad Mova Al'Afghani
Photo: Water User Groups at Tlanak Village, Lamongan, East Java
The following is a summary of the problematique chapter of our recent research project on the regulation of community based water and sanitation:
The government aims to achieve universal access to water supply and sanitation by 2019. According to some calculations, this ambitious target cannot be fulfilled by relying on regional water utilities (Perusahaan Daerah Air Minum or “PDAM”) alone. It is estimated that PDAM can only contribute around 40% of the total target, whereas the other 60% would be expected to come from community‐based systems. The policy framework for CB Watsan was introduced by the government in 2003. The 2003 National Policy on The Development of Community‐Based Water and Sanitation introduced a duality in Indonesian national water policy: one being “institution‐based” and the other being “community‐based”. OThe conceptual problem surrounding “community‐based” watsan is on the definition and delineation between CB watsan and institutional watsan. In the policy framework, the term “institution‐based” is used to denote water services operated by corporate water utilities including PDAM, whereas “community‐based” is used to describe services provided by local communities for their own needs. How communities and institutions are defined, at least in the academic sense, might not be compatible with what is intended by the policy framework.There are also inconsistencies and discrepancies in the regulatory framework from the national down to regional and village levels, with regards to the role of CB watsan. The legal framework at the national level appears to favour “institution” based watsan, such as PDAM. Community based Watsan’s role are considered to be residual – in providing access only where “institutional” system cannot serve.Within the community based watsan itself, there is a major issue with regards to the clarity of assets ownership. Our Focus Group Discussion reveals that in some large scale projects, the assets still belong to the ministry of public works as it has not been transferred and thus, is accounted as liability and subsidy. FGD participants agreed that “Assets transfer is Indeed a big homework. The legal frameworks need to be completed.”Some community watsan activist considered that assets should be owned by the “communities” whereas according to another, it should be owned by the village. The national policy on community‐based watsan on the other hand, advocates “community” ownership and suggests that a legal framework be conceived by the government to smoothen the transfer of assets from the government to the “community”. On the Pamsimas program technical manual it is suggested that it is the operation that is transferred, but not the asset owenership.We also found that there are cases where PDAM systems overlap and compete with CB Watsan. This is caused, partly by the introduction of the dualist system of watsan services in the 2003 framework. How these community watsan initiatives could coexist with existing PDAMs or – to maintain the economies of scale – be merged with or acquire existing PDAMs is a problem which yet to be solved, let alone, researched.The FGD reveals that there are unresolved fundamental differences among regulatory stakeholders, in terms of whether CB should be perceived as a temporary “approach” with the overall intention to integrate it to the PDAM or “institutional” system in the future, or whether is stands equally to the existing “institutional” system.There are also problems with respect to service standards and how the government can foster monitoring, supervision and enforcement of such standards through regulatory frameworks. Community initiative and demand‐driven approach is central to the community watsan movement. However, this approach is at odds with existing national legal frameworks requiring water and sanitation services to comply with minimum service standards enacted by local government.Whether or not similar standards should apply to both government owned water utilities and community watsan is a matter of debate. Some interpret “universal water provision” in the sense that similar quality, quantity, continuity, affordability should be applicable to everyone and every service providers. However, such ideal standard is difficult to achieve in Indonesian rural water provision, especially in the remote regions such as Nusa Tenggara and Papua.
Visit Regulation of Community Water and Sanitation project page to download reports.