PROJECT: GOVERNANCE, ADVOCACY AND LEADERSHIP IN WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE (GOAL WASH)Tajikistan
The project has adopted a balanced approach which implies (a) a new tariff methodology for rural water systems and training water service providers in tariff setting and (b) application of consumer rights protection mechanisms and strengthening relationships between service providers and consumers.
- Support the development and promotion of effective regulatory framework for the drinking water supply and sanitation sector: separation of roles (policy, regulation and management), tariff policy improvement, de-monopolization and private sector involvement.
- Support to consumer rights protection mechanism for drinking water supply and sanitation sector: (a) implementation of dispute resolution mechanisms for drinking water supply and sanitation services; (b) render legal services for the consumers and (c) support establishment of consumer voice and feedback mechanisms in pilot areas to improve information and accountability of water supply organizations and increase responsible consumer behavior and participation.
The legislative framework for the rural drinking water and sanitation sector in Tajikistan needs to be improved. The way policies are formulated, interpreted and applied actively restricts investment.
Where existing policies have been reformed these new policies are often not implemented due to a lack of knowledge, skills and necessary resources at the level of the district implementing agency. Moreover, as the result of heavy subsidization of water supply services during the Soviet Era, willingness to pay full-cost recovery tariffs has not been institutionalized.
Policy reforms are generally slow and continuous processes, and in particular a challenging process in Tajikistan. However, given the approach adopted by GoAL WaSH in Tajikistan with regards to linking key policy issues around tariff policies to a more sustainable provision of drinking water supply and sanitation services on the ground, the key state agencies and institutions acknowledge the need for policy improvements.
They see an opportunity to improve drinking water supply and sanitation services as long as a balanced support is given to both duty-bearers, such as water supply organizations, and rights holders (consumers).
In 2018 GoAL WaSH is supporting the establishment of a new management model for rural water management in Hamadoni district.
This model includes a trust-based contract signed between the communities and the local operator. Roles and responsibilities of the operator have been identified. An appropriate water tariff has been established (based on methodology previously developed with support of GoAL WaSH) and approved by the regulatory agency.
The project successfully increased understanding among regulatory bodies on how tariffs are constructed. This enabled new tariffs to be agreed and increases towards full cost recovery to be implemented. This is a major breakthrough, with new tariffs for 12 systems providing necessary precedents for consecutive policy change.
Training on the methodology was provided to 12 operators of rural water supply systems during which they developed new tariff schemes and determined the level of full-cost recovery tariffs, which were later agreed with the regulating agency. At the end of the project, all operators had improved their tariff collection rates. The project helped develop a practical guide on how to calculate costs in a full-cost recovery tariff scheme. Though primarily aimed at rural water supply operators, it is also applicable to small urban water supply and sanitation services.
GoAL WaSH also demonstrated that application of governance and consumer rights protection measures can improve water fee collection rates. Service providers have become more transparent through sharing information with consumers. They have also become more accountable and responsive through regular reporting on their activities and handling consumer enquiries and complaints systematically. The balanced approach resulted in progress towards achievement of better economic viability and system sustainability in the sector.
Furthermore, the project improved confidence among suppliers and consumers, as well as among national and local authorities and regulatory bodies. This was achieved with the support of the public advisory councils within supply organizations. In addition to acting as a bridge between suppliers and consumers on a practical level, the councils facilitated dialogue with national government bodies on a policy level. Establishing a network of volunteers has provided legal consultative services to water consumers. The volunteers keep regular contact with professional lawyers within the Consumers Union of Tajikistan, and organize training on water integrity, consumer rights protection, and dispute resolution.
GoAL WaSH built a substantive knowledge base, and this will help maintain a good level of transparency, accountability, and participation in the drinking water sector. The sector website (see More online, below) publishes a range of knowledge products and provides a forum for discussion on issues raised by consumers and other interested users. The recommendations developed by the project were also used for the development of a new edition of the Law on Drinking Water, Water Supply, and Sanitation currently being prepared under the leadership of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources.
The second phase of the project supported a local initiative by constructing a drinking water supply system for 186 households in Chorbog village in the Hamdoni district. State acceptance has been signed and submitted to district authorities. The project also supported the development and signing of a trilateral memorandum of understanding between the village committee, local municipality, and State operator. This regulates the relationship between supplier and consumers and the role of the municipality administration as mediator in the event of any service delivery issues.
The approaches promoted by GoAL WaSH (focusing on empowering consumer groups, human rights-based approaches, good governance mechanisms, and targeted strategies in implementing full-cost recovery tariff schemes) attracted additional funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for USD 5 million to support activities from 2013 to 2017. The methodology for tariff-setting for rural and urban water supply operators and guide to consumer rights protection developed during the project are expected to be used by several other initiatives, including the SDC project. Lessons learned and outcomes from GoAL WaSH will be integrated in a further phase of the SDC project (budget USD 3 million to run from 2018 to 2021) and support overall management of water supply and sanitation systems in rural Tajikistan.