Local governments and user groups plan and implement large water supply schemes: success story in Kerala

This field note documents the evolution of three large, river-based schemes in Aliparamba Gram Panchayat near Kozhikode in the north of Kerala state, India. This success story is significant because the schemes are the first of their kind in Kerala to have been planned and implemented by the Gram Panchayat and User Groups, and to institute a management model that invests ownership and corporate oversight with a Scheme Level Committee representing participating User Groups, that is overseen by a Gram Panchayat-level Coordination Committee. The schemes, which are providing potable water to 3,532 families in an area where 90 percent of open wells run dry from February to May each year, serve as a model for effective, decentralized planning and implementation. Many innovations were required to address social, technical, institutional, and financial issues. These are documented here, and provide valuable lessons to policymakers and practitioners in scaling-up such approaches.