This paper addresses the question of whether community management in water service delivery affects the sustainability of rural water facilities (RWFs) at village level, in terms of their technical and managerial aspects, and what role capacity building of users and providers plays in this process. Empirical research was conducted in nine villages in the districts of Kondoa and Mpwapwa, in the Dodoma region of Tanzania. The results reveal that sustainability of RWFs is in jeopardy and that villages far from the District Council headquarters experience numerous technical and management problems. The national water framework does not clearly define the roles of the key actors at the district, village and household levels. District Water Departments do not have enough resources to render the services needed adequately and in a timely manner. In all the villages studied there were no local technicians trained for basic operation and maintenance. This implies that the concept of community management cannot be taken at face value; its actual meaning needs to be specified in order to offer a realistic and feasible option in the decentralization of rural water provision. With regard to capacity development, we recommend establishing workshops for clusters of villages to repair breakdowns and coordinate spare parts.

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