This study examines private sector efforts to manage domestic water supplies serving dispersed populations or very small settlements in rural areas. The report seeks to familiarize World Bank staff and others about the ways in which private operators have been used as an alternative to traditional community management, and with what degree of success. The ultimate goal is to expand the range of management options that Bank staff discuss with clients, and thereby identify the one most likely to fit operations in a given context. This desk review is the first step in this direction.
- Rural private operator initiatives are a promising option for addressing the problems of sustainable operation and maintenance.
- Build-and-operate designs have improved several rural private operator initiatives.
- Rural private operator initiatives are not an alternative to capable government institutions.
- Analysis will be crucial in learning to judge when, where, and why to employ the rural private operator option.
- Recommendations for next steps include: undertake a similar desk review of community management models; examine more closely the utility models for rural water supplies; bring into the Bank more information on the successful operations of other development partners; document and compare the processes by which successful or promising rural private operator initiatives have been put in place; encourage Bank operations to undertake more field survey evaluations; and have the Bank lead an international community of practice on rural and small town private operators.