Community Operational Manual
Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, Government of Maharashtra

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The JALSWARAJYA project of the state of Maharashtra, India, aims to increase the access of rural communities to improved and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services through the three-tier system of elected government that exists at the village (approximately 2000 people), block (approximately 100 villages) and district levels. To date, these elected bodies have not been involved in the design, construction or supervision of water supply projects and have therefore lacked the ability and will to maintain them.

In the JALSWARAJYA project primary decision-making will be undertaken at the village level. Within villages, women and other marginalized groups, while represented in 1/3 of local government seats, continue to face immense barriers in voicing their priorities and influencing decision-making. Through empowering women and increasing community participation in village institutions the transparency, accountability and trust that are essential to community management can be achieved. This will be done through investing the Gram Sabha, or village assembly, with the powers to make all major decisions, and through the formation of development committees that include both local government and community members, and have at least 50% representation by women.

The JALSWARAJYA Community Manual, "Step-by-Step," demonstrates how effective management of water and sanitation can be achieved through transparency, accountability and participation at every step of planning, implementation and maintenance. We are in the process of converting the manual into training modules that will be delivered within districts by a team of stakeholders that includes district officials, NGO representatives and community members.

At the state level, SSP is the consultant to create manual and booklets on community led planning, procurement and contracting, as well as convey lessons from the field and policy recommendations to the government.