Sustainable functionality of rural water infrastructures is a major challenge in Nepal, as elsewhere. This paper looks at systems for improved community-based water supply and sanitation management in the Rural Village Water Resources Management Project (RVWRMP), in mid and far west Nepal. The paper analysed 496 rural, community-managed drinking water and sanitation schemes (with 30 to 250 beneficiary households per scheme) supported by RVWRMP (2006–2014). Observed results are: 91.5% fully functional, 8.3% partially functional and 0.2% of schemes closed due to natural disasters and social conflicts. This compares very favourably to the systems implemented by the government of similar age. We consider that the experience gained in RVWRMP provides relevant lessons on how to safeguard the functionality of rural water services infrastructure systems. The key elements noted by our staff are: prioritisation of the schemes by the community; application of quality implementation and user committee management; Water Safety Plans and active maintenance; and hands-on technical support and monitoring.

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