The project [Integrated Management of Water Resources and Environmental Infrastructure] was launched with DANIDA funding in 1993, under the Settlement Infrastructure and Environment Programme (SIEP) programme of the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). It is unique in its approach in two important areas. First, it recognizes the interdependence of water supply, sanitation, drainage, and waste management and deals with them in an integrated manner. Second, it brings together all the relevant institutions and beneficiaries, such as national and local authorities, NGOs, communities and the private sector in a particular city, through a series of workshops, to discuss and identify their water problems and prioritize their needs. The advantages of this approach are: (1) it ensures that the problems are solved together, with the full involvement of the beneficiaries, in accordance with their needs; (2) it promotes the transfer of responsibility for such services from the traditional public sector institutions which have proven to be inefficient, lack accountability and transparency; (3) it taps resources within the private sector and communities to provide funds for investment, participate in planning, management and the operation and maintenance of services.
The project is being implemented in three phases. (1) The initial research and diagnosis phase described above with the participation of all stakeholders, looks into current practices for the management of water resources and environmental infrastructure, identifies and prioritizes the problems, and develops a strategy for improvement. (2) During the second phase, generic management and practical implementation tools and policy options are developed for solving the problems of the particular city, but which can then be used to solve similar problems in other cities. This makes use of community self-surveys to determine the types of services required, and the community's willingness and ability to pay for such services. (3) The third phase provides support to the relevant cities for the application of the developed tools and instruments. This ranges from the building capacity of institutions through training to apply the tools, to pilot projects to test them. In some cases this may involve assistance to attract bi- and multi-lateral financing for projects. Cost recovery is promoted as an integral part of all interventions to improve long-term sustainability, self-reliance and reduce dependence on external support.