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Resource details

Sharing it out: introducing demand management: strategies for small towns. Revision 2 final report

Author(s): Deverill, Paul

Publisher: LSHTM | WEDC
Place of publication: London and Loughborough
Year: 2001

Series: WELL Studies in Water, Sanitation and Environmental Health Task 513
Collection(s): WELL


Fresh water has become an increasingly scarce resource. Global consumption is rising and has risen six-fold between 1990 and 2000. The impact of water shortage is experienced most in urban areas where the routine response to inadequate water has been to expand supply. Water demand management has been defined as a practical strategy that improves the equitable, efficient and sustainable use of water. The special situation of small towns in terms of their advantages and disadvantages is reflected in the content and presentation of this report. The focus is on residential and institutional consumers. The use of water by industries and farmers is not considered.

Problem definition is a key part of an effective demand management strategy. The report describes how qualitative and quantitative techniques can be used to establish use patterns and demonstrates the use of a water-use table to establish and monitor consumption. Equity can be improved by investing in improving service provision for the poor. Efficiency can be enhanced if a demand responsive approach is used. Alternatively, by improving the efficiency of existing services, the financial and water resources saved can be used to improve equity. The report illustrates the 'belt and braces' approach, focusing on five practical measures:

Introducing a demand responsive approach to service provision;

Improving the service provided by communal standpipes;

Reducing revenue losses;

Reducing physical losses; and

Building public support for demand management.

Each measure is described individually. In practice they cannot be used in isolation but would form part of a cohesive, mutually reinforcing programme. This may also include the efficient development of new water supplies or expanding the capacity of those in use.

Water demand management cannot be implemented on an ad hoc basis. It requires formal arrangements for project management. This can be achieved by combining measures into a number of discreet sub-projects, each with its own aim, objectives, indicators, activities, resources, budget and manager. The report advocates an incremental introduction of water demand management. The advantages of such an approach are:

It allows water service providers to learn the 'art' of demand management by monitoring progress, evaluating performance and refining their strategy;

It allows time t build public and political awareness and confidence;

It provides funders the opportunity to invest in pilot projects; and

It allows time for service providers to move from a supply driven to a demand responsive and poverty sensitive culture.

The conclusion bring together the points discussed and highlights a number of important gaps in knowledge and practice that may prevent or delay the uptake of an effective demand management strategy.

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