Switzerland helps improve water supply in rural Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT (TCA) — A seminar “Community Water Supply Management System in Uzbekistan: Experience, Challenges and Further Developments” was held in Fergana city on July 25 and 26 as part of the “Rural Water Supply and Sanitation” project (RWSS) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Jahon information agency reported.

The seminar was organized by the Embassy of Switzerland in Uzbekistan jointly with the Uzbek Ministry of Housing and Communal Services, with the aim to discuss the issue of rural water supply with the government and relevant parties, and to provide a more favorable enabling environment.

Water is one of the main prerequisites for human well-being and cultural and economic growth. Having adequate, affordable and accessible drinking water reduces risks of diseases, lowers the financial burden of households which have to buy water from unreliable suppliers, and allows children to attend school and the parents to stay at work, ultimately improving the whole economy at the national level. However, access to safe drinking water remains a serious problem especially in rural areas, where water supply systems either do not exist or have heavily deteriorated over time.

With this consideration, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has been working on developing alternative solutions to reach out to the people living in rural Uzbekistan, to improve rural water supply and sanitation management. Over the past 15 years, SDC has been working in the Fergana Valley, first starting in the provinces of Fergana and Andijan, then extending its work and support into Namangan and further into Syrdarya province. The RWSS Project contributes to improving the living standards and health of the population of the selected villages through renewed water supply systems and improved hygiene awareness and sanitation.

The approach is based on the principle that rural people can themselves determine how to address water supply issues, including the use of decentralized management. The model set up is based on community participation, involving men, women and children of each village facilitated by the project team to define their needs, find a common solution, and provide technical expertise to set up their own water supply system management. Moreover, by introducing a tariff which covers the total cost of the system (including running costs, salaries, small maintenance, and the depreciation cost ), the model has proven to be able to achieve financial sustainability and affordability.

Sergey Kwan

TCA