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  • Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency

    A Govt. of Kerala Undertaking


Government of Kerala was a signatory State on the “Cochin Declaration on Drinking Water Sector” that brought in reforms in rural water supply sector in the Country in 1999, which advocates three key principles, ie changing the role of Government from provider to facilitator, increasing the role and participation of rural communities in the planning and management of their own water supply facilities, increasing cost recovery form user and management of operation and maintenance by users. Subsequent to this, Government of Kerala has created an autonomous institution “Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (KRWSA)”- as a special purpose vehicle to implement the World Bank aided community managed demand driven water supply and sanitation project named as Jalanidhi project. KRWSA was registered on 17-11-1999 under Travancore Cochin Literacy, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act 1955 (Act XII of 1955) with Registration No.T.1812. KRWSA has successfully implemented two phases of Jalanidhi project, i.e Jalanidhi Phase-1 during 2000-2008 & Phase-2 during 2012-2019. The Gram Panchayats have a pivotal role in implementing community based water supply projects under Jalanidhi. KRWSA has also established a wide network of NGOs in mobilizing communities towards implementing the participatory, community driven water supply & sanitation facilities owned and managed by them. This model of scheme implementation under JALANIDHI has demonstrated successfully an equitable, inclusive and decentralized delivery system mainly benefiting the SC,ST and BPL category of rural households in Kerala. KRWSA is the nodal Agency of the State Government for the implementation of Rain Water Harvesting Programme. Further KRWSA is designated as Water and Sanitation Support Organisation {WSSO} of Govt of India to coordinate drinking water related support activities in the State. Government of Kerala has selected KRWSA as one of the implementing agency for the implementation of central flag ship programme of Govt. of India, Jal Jeevan Mission Programme {JJM} in the state during the period 2020-2024.

Project Philosophy

Demand Driven Approach - Unlike a supply driven approach hitherto followed, this project is implemented based on the need of the people expressed through their willingness to pay and to participate in project planning, implementation and post commissioning operations. This inculcates a sense of ownership in the people.
Cost sharing / Ownership and financial viability To ensure ownership of the project, 10% of the capital costs are borne by the beneficiary community. Of the remaining, the Grama Panchayath bears 15% and 75% borne by the Govt. The Users themselves meet 100% of the recurring costs of operations and maintenance. This lightens the burden on the state exchequer, thereby helping the Government to utilise this money for other priority needs.
Community Contracting - The users themselves are fully involved in all the activities right from identifying their sources, deciding on the technology to be utilised, community contracting and implementation till the operations and maintenance aspects of the schemes. All contracting of goods, works and services are done at the user level itself for which adequate training in terms of World Bank procurement procedure is provided and guidelines made available to communities.
Pro-poor Approach - Special efforts have been taken in the project design to include the poor and vulnerable user groups. This is done by constituting special category beneficiary groups with lesser cash contribution than the general category BGs. The project has been so designed to incorporate the beneficiary contribution either through cash or labour. There is also a separate Tribal Sub-Project, a special component for the tribals in the project area.
Community Empowerment Capacity building and equipping the community to operate the project is a major thrust area of this project as this is planned, designed, implemented, owned and operated by the users themselves. This will not only ensure the involvement of the people but will also chart a new path to community-based responses for meeting local needs.
Integrated Approach  In order to ensure sustainability of safe drinking water, components like watershed development, environmental sanitation, health, hygiene and sanitation education and women empowerment have been integrated into the project design
Utilisation of available resources - The schemes, already operational in these project areas, are also rehabilitated and handed over to the User groups. This ensures efficient utilisation of investments made and the existing beneficiaries will also get improved service delivery.
Dovetailing with Decentralised Planning - This project is being operationalised through the Grama Panchayaths and the beneficiary groups, thereby acknowledging and strengthening the efforts of decentralised planning in Kerala.

Institutional arrangements under Jalanidhi

Water Resources Department, Government of Kerala, is the nodal department for implementation of the Jalanidhi project in the State. Kerala Rural Water supply and Sanitation Agency (KRWSA) set up by the Government of Kerala for the Jalanidhi I project is retained by the GoK for management of the second phase of the project and to provide all kinds of facilitation and support at the State Level. KRWSA's mandate is to ensure that the Project Development Objective is achieved in a time bound and economic way. KRWSA's functions, powers, accountabilities and Organization structure for Jalanidhi - II is more or less the same as that for Jalanidhi I project. However, in view of the increased role of the Grama Panchayath in the implementation of development projects through people's participation, the constitutional obligation of the LSG departments in water and sanitation sector management and to enhance the implementation efficiency of the LSG institutions, the field level staff earlier housed in the District Project Management Units (DPMUs) has been deployed in the Grama Panchayaths. This field level staff is responsible for on-site management of the support organizations and GPs at the grass root level. To effectively monitor this institutional set up three Regional Project Management Units (RPMUs) were set up at three different locations. The overall institutional design is developed to support the decentralization process and to strengthen the existing institutions by collaboration in possible areas. This has been demonstrated by KWAs collaboration in few multi-GP schemes and adopting technical support from Suchithwa Mission.

The responsibilities of various institutions and their functions are detailed below:

Responsible Institutions Main Function
Government of Kerala (GoK)-Water Resources Department (WRD) Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (KRWSA) General Body (GB) and Governing Council (GC) Policy, Annual Plans & budget approval, and overall implementation support and monitoring.
KRWSA , Project Management Units (PMU) and Regional Project Management Units (RPMU) and Grama Panchayath Support Teams (GPST) Overall management of the Project , Implementation support , Onsite project Implementation support
Grama Panchayath (GP) Support for Project Implementation as per scheme cycle, capital cost sharing, Management of GP level components, fund management, monitoring and supervision. etc
Beneficiary Groups (BG) Implementation of schemes as per scheme cycle, capital cost sharing and 100 % O & M.
Grama Panchayath Action Team (GPAT) /Support Organizations (SO). Implementation support ,IEC and capacity building support, Technical assistance support- supervision‚
Kerala Water Authority (KWA) Implementation of multi GP schemes and rehabilitation of schemes as per the scheme cycle, TA on demand Capacity building support, WQM, Implementation, monitoring and supervision of bulk water supply component.
Suchithva Mission (SM) IEC and Implementation support in sanitation component.

State Level arrangement:

Water Resources Department of Government of Kerala coordinates the project implementation activities at the state level. This department is chaired by the Hon. Minister for water resources with a senior government official in the rank of Secretary heading it. Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (KRWSA) an autonomous institution set by the GOK is responsible for the project implementation at the state level. The KRWSA constituted under the society's act of 1955 has its own memorandum of association and bye-law. The General Body of KRWSA with Hon. Minister for Water Resources as its president and senior officials of government and nominated dignitaries as members. General Body has the overall responsibility of the implementation of the project as is envisaged. The Governing Council of KRWSA with the Secretary of Water Resources as its chairman, Secretaries of Local Self Government, Finance, Managing Director of KWA, Representative President of one participating panchayath, one NGO representative and one nominated health and sanitation expert constitutes the administrative body. The GC will have the powers to take appropriate decisions to implement the project effectively.

Chief functions of the Governing Council

The major responsibilities of the Governing Council are to approve the annual action plan, budget for every year, Grama Panchayath selection, recommendation for staff service extension, sourced on deputation or on contract, Support organization list approval, annual audit report and approval of project estimates beyond the powers of the Executive Director.

The Governing council of KRWSA, its apex policymaking body has functioned as an effective board overseeing the project implementation.

Project Management Unit (PMU): The PMU is headed by an Executive Director (an officer from Indian Administrative Service) for general coordination and effective administration of the project. Apart from that, 5 operational Units under each Director: one for operations, technical, finance and accounts, HRD and M&E, are having about 20 key professional staff. The staff are multi-disciplinary including specialists in operations, water supply, sanitation, environment, social development, finance, HRD, M&E, procurement and communications disciplines.

Chief functions of the PMU is as follows
Overall project management and achievement of project development objectives, implementation of project components at state level such as setting up and operations of RPMUs, GPST, facilitating the implementation of multi GP water supply schemes, placement of consultants for comprehensive GP wide water development plans, developing appropriate guidelines for the project implementation, State level IEC and Capacity building, programme implementation‚ level capacity building of KRWSA and KWA staff, support agencies like SO/GPAT, fund release to RPMU for small scheme implementation and to KWA for comprehensive multi GP schemes, sourcing of high quality engineering support, Monitoring and Evaluation, Financial audits, liaison with the GOK,GOI and the World Bank, preparation of reports for various progress reviews by the WRD, GOK, GOI, WB etc.

Regional Level institutions:

Regional Project Management Units
KRWSA extends the project activities in the state through Regional Project Management Units (RPMUs) set up at three locations. RPMUs are manned by highly skilled staff comprising of engineering, community development, hydrogeology and finance personnel. RPMUs are headed by a Regional Project Director who is a very senior and competent person having either engineering or community development skill. Basically the RPMU staff should travel to the project GPs and give advice, guidance, on the spot approvals as and when needed by the GP support teams. Strong linkage with the grass root level institutions and effective supervision of the project activities can be ensured through this arrangements. Chief roles of the RPMUs are detailed below:

Chief functions of the RPMUs

Facilitation and implementation support to the GP and GPSTs , Signing of various agreements with the GP for small schemes, with GP and KWA for the implementation of multi-GP schemes. Capacity building support for the GP/GPST/GPAT/SO teams to ensure that the stake holders perform their functions effectively during the project implementation. Management of fund at the regional level and timely transfer of these funds to the GP as per the recommendations of the GP support Team. Monitor and supervise during the project implementation of various components. Ensure timely and satisfactory completion of the project components on par with the scheme cycle. Completion of exit formalities at the GP level.

Regional offices, are the extended arm of the Project management unit, placed at different locations of the state. The regional offices have the following jurisdiction at present.


Location of the RPMU

Districts under each of the RPMUs geographical jurisdiction


RPMU, Idukki located at Thodupuzha, Idukki

Idukki and Kottayam Districts


RPMU, Malappuram- located at Malappuram

Thrissur, Malappuram, Palakkad and Kozhikode Districts.


RPMU, Kannur- located at Kannur

Kannur, Wayanadu and Kasaragode Districts.

The RPMU Team is intended as a traveling team of experts who is required to travel extensively to project GPs and BGs, guiding and supervising the activities of GPSTs, GPAT / SO Teams, and GP and BG implementation teams, problem solving‚ etc. The entire project related documents and records are maintained at the GP and GPST offices. RPMU team will give necessary approvals and record them in the GPST records. GPST is allowed to transfer the electronic copies to RPMUs and PMU for records.

GP level institutions under Jalanidhi

GP level support Team:

GP level support Team (GPST) is basically the RPMU staff placed in the GP to support the project implementation activities. The team consists of one senior engineer in the rank or experience of Assistant Engineer in the Government and one accountant. Considering the nature and to ensure the high quality community development support, these team members are named as Project Commissioners and Junior Project Commissioner.GP support team will ensure the timely high quality project implementation, ensuring smooth fund flow, transparency, accountability, concurrent monitoring, check measurement etc. The GPST will give necessary on site clearances and approvals at their level as and when needed.

Chief functions of the GPST :

Facilitate the project implementation by providing guidance to the Grama Panchayath, Support Organisation, GPAT and beneficiary groups. Provide on-site clearances and approvals that are required for the GP and BG from RPMUs. Ensure the BGs are formed and registered with proper capacity building, that BGs are ready for social action and that BGS are informed of various technology options, Concurrent monitoring and check measurements of the physical works, problem solving, sending progress reports that are required for the project monitoring, facilitating various audits by KRWSA.GPSTs will maintain the file and records of hard copies of DSR, CEP etc.

Grama Panchayath:

Grama Panchayath is the nodal agency responsible for implementation of the project. The Grama Panchayaths in Kerala gathered a high degree of implementation efficiency through the devolved powers for the past ten years. The GPs now expend around 5-7 crores per annum through the plan process. This capacity of decentralized planning will be very helpful for shouldering the responsibility of project implementation. The GP president is responsible for implementing project activities ensuring project philosophy and according to the guidelines issued from time to time. The GP Board and the sub-committee on health and education will ensure a proactive support. The Watsan agenda at the GP level will be reviewed by the health and education standing committee and placed before the GP board for approval.

Major function of the Grama Panchayath is to implement the project in a sustainable way through appropriate institutional arrangements envisaged in the project. The GP has to ensure the resource support for the satisfactory implementation, operation and running of the project.

Support organizations (SO) or Grama Panchayath Action Team (GPAT)

The efficient and scientific implementation of the project in the Grama Panchayath needs an effective institutional support mechanism to address the technical, community development needs of the GP. The NGOs having the capacity and prior experience in WATSAN as well as in the Rural Development area are selected to facilitate the project implementation at GP level to support the GPs. The team of the support organizations was given adequate capacity support and training to facilitate and implement the project at the grass roots level. The administration of SO is done through a contract signed between the GP and concerned organization. The SOs will be required to support the GP in creating awareness of the project among the people by conducting GP level IEC campaigns on reform principles in RWSS. The SOs will have to mobilize the needy sections of the community in the GP having acute water scarcity, into registered Beneficiary Groups through appropriate social mobilization processes.

The SO has to assist institutionalization and capacity building of the BGs by facilitating to evolve systems and procedures for conducting meetings and record keeping. Assist the BGs in identifying feasible and sustainable solutions to their Watsan problems, adopting technology choices, mobilizing community contribution etc through informed decision making. They have to assist the BGs and guide them in procuring goods, works and services by advising them on quality parameters, procurement methods, stores management etc. The SOs will have the responsibility to ensure the quality of materials purchased by BGs. Monitoring and measurements and check measurements progressively. The SOs will have to ensure a timely completion of the project and smooth exit. The SOs will have to give handholding support to the BGS during the O & M phase.