This paper examines the question: how effective is a community driven development (CDD) approach to rural water supply? Some theoretical advantages of CDD approaches include: (1) community choices are more attuned to local needs; (2) sustainable O&M is more likely; (3) social capital is built; (4) more participation yields better oversight and less corruption; and (5) communities become active partners in development, itself a worthy objective. Using quantitative and qualitative data from a water supply and sanitation project in Punjab, Pakistan, the study finds that the CDD approach, consistent with expectations, has done well in extending water supply, drainage, and sanitation coverage to the poor rural communities, and demonstrated outcomes that are only achievable through CDD—including water tariff and cultural changes. The project was also effective in promoting local participation and ownership, particularly by women's groups, and is therefore likely to have sustainable operation and maintenance (O & M). This study uncovers two dimensions of CDD in water and sanitation as means to an end: political reform, by proposing implementation strategies of decentralisation; and cultural reform, by providing an approach to break cultural barriers.
Keywords: Community-based approach, Community-driven development, Decentralisation, Gender, Poverty, Rural water supply, Sanitation