Sustainable and Safe Water for An-Oston – A community takes responsibility for its water supply
A historical day for An-Oston: the community based drinking water users union (CDWUU) general assembly agreed unanimously on its new water tariff of 35 KGS/m3 on February, the 1st, 2016.
KAWS financial specialist Aigul presentting the composition of An-Oston's suggested tariff.
A year and a half after the project start, the existing old water supply network with 5.8 km length has finally been rehabilitated and 185 households are now benefitting from the improved water supply services. The remaining households should be connected soon to the network as tranches have already been dug and pipes have been laid.
Before the rehabilitation of the water supply system, the villagers had to get water from 12 functional tap stands (out of 30) which were available two hours per day. That time, 15 KGS were charged per person per month.
Since the beginning of the implementation in January 2014, the CDWUU has charged an estimated fee of 25 KGS per m³, as it has not been possible to properly calculate the final tariff in the new water supply setting. Now as almost all households has been connected and water meters installed, the tariff could be exactly calculated full cost recovery; including all expenses for operation and maintenance, necessary reserves and depreciation and was higher than before estimated.
Heated discussion in the General Assembly
KAWS held several meetings from village quarter level to the general assembly meeting to explain the situation and by showing via financial calculations why tariffs had to be raised almost 3 times compared to the prior situation.
At each level, discussions were hard and long. “I don’t see a reason why we should pay more than the people in the neighbouring villages Munduz, Ak-Dobo and Chirak?“ argued Almanbet Maldybaev and Akyl Tanabaev at the first water quarter meeting. Many others had the same doubts and expressed their dissatisfaction over the neighbouring villages’ tariffs being only 20 and 15 KGS, while their CDWUU suggested a new calculated tariff of 36 KGS for An-Oston.
The CDWUU bookkeeper and chair of the neighbouring villages were invited to the general assembly and reported on their financial situation. “If we could, we would directly raise our tariff to 30 or 40 KGS“, says Ainura Usakava, the bookkeeper of neighboring Munduz’ CDWUU who also stated that Munduz’ CDWUU is verging on bankruptcy due to debts from micro credits and by missing reserves in their calculations.
“Why should we pay more than the neighbouring village?”
“How much do you pay for a package of cigarettes?“ asked Anara Choitonbaeva, KAWS chair in the general assembly “some people smoke a package a day which costs at least 40 KGS per day. You have to think of your priorities!“
The constructor of the water supply system contributed to the discussion with: “Whatever you decide on today, it will be your choice - 10, 20, 30 or even 40 KGS. And I give you my warranty for the rehabilitated system. It will work for a year without problems. But after that you will need to maintain and require some spare-parts which need to be purchased. Do not only think for now, but think about sustainability for the long-term !“. Anara Chointonbaeva asked Munduz’ and Ak-Dobo’s CDWUU chair and bookkeeper: “Does the water tariff in your villages include all these cost calculation?“ The answer was simple: “No“.The participants became slowly aware that covering all costs and depreciation is needed in order to avoid a situation like in their neighbour villages.
Finally, after discussing every point of the tariff’s calculation and almost three hours of intensive discussions with all assembly members, a tariff of 35 KGS per m3 was agreed upon. “It is true, we are convinced now to pay this tariff to be sustainable and not to end up like our friends in Munduz.“ said Almanbet Maldybaev and Akyl Tanabaev at the end of the general assembly.
The new increased water tariff of 35 KGS/m3 is now around 2.8 times higher than before the intervention but now the families have water inside their house 24 hours per day. This tariff is now full cost recovering. Gulaiy Seitkazieva is happy: „We needed to agree on this tariff. Now we can ensure sustainability!“
This project is being implemented by KAWS and WECF with support of the water agency Artois-Picardie and the municipality St Omer, France.
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