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Not built to last: Improving legal and institutional arrangements for community-based water and sanitation service delivery in Indonesia

Mohamad Mova Al’Afghani
Center for Regulation, Policy and Governance, Universitas Ibn Khaldun Bogor, Bogor, Indonesia; mova@alafghani.info

Jeremy Kohlitz
Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia; jeremy.kohlitz@uts.edu.au

Juliet Willetts
Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia; juliet.willetts@uts.edu.au

ABSTRACT: The community-based water and sanitation provision model has been widely used since the 1990s, proliferating in Indonesia since 2003. Recently, Indonesia has made plans to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2019, primarily by using the community-based model. The model, however, has been criticised with respect to sustainability challenges, the excessive burden it potentially places on communities, and for inadvertently undermining local government engagement in supporting services. This paper analyses the legal and institutional arrangements for community-based water and sanitation delivery in Indonesia, and finds four key issues: (i) absence of legal personality, (ii) lack of asset security, (iii) lack of financial security, and (iv) lack of a service standard. These shortcomings could have implications not only in the long-term use of the infrastructure, but also in terms of human rights. This paper explains that such issues are caused by the prevalent “community empowerment” norm. Instead of a hands-off, post-construction government approach where communities are “left alone”, we propose legal reforms relating to these four areas which are in line with a co-management approach, one in which both the government and the community have responsibilities to support and manage service delivery.

KEYWORDS: Community, institutions, water supply, sanitation, sustainability, Indonesia