6 The cost of keeping a rural water system running - cost tracking of three rural water supplies in Uganda
Updated - Friday 26 November 2010
Authors: Lucrezia Koestler, Andreas G Koestler, Marius A Koestler
Life-cycle costs of rural water systems have until now been poorly documented and paid little attention to. Most actors such as donors, NGOs, governments and other stakeholders tend to focus on the capital costs and do not know what it costs to run and maintain systems over time. This paper uses the life-cycle cost (LCC) approach to track the different costs of three rural water projects in Uganda over a period of seven years, managed through the community management model. The paper shows that a substantial amount is required to keep a rural water system running, and that only a small part is covered by the community. A substantial expense is the direct support to the community by the NGO and capital maintenance costs, whereas operation costs are relatively low compared to the total cash flow needed. This shows that it is necessary to commit funds over a long period of time, or create effective and well-funded support mechanisms to ensure operation and maintenance of rural water supply systems.