If you wonder what self-supply implies and what it doesn’t or the difference between self-supply and supported self-supply, have a look at this introduction to self-supply.

Definition: Self-supply refers to an approach of incremental improvements to water supplies that are mainly financed by the users themselves (Source: Wikipedia entry on Self-supply)

 What does Self-supply imply?

Under a Self-supply approach, the users are in charge for choosing the technology they want, the service level they want, and the provider of these products and services they want. This implies that these products and services will not be planned for at central, regional or municipal level. Self-supply (and Supported Self-supply) also mean that subsidies are not the key of an intervention (but may be used for market facilitation, for information dissemination, for promotion, etc.).

 What does it NOT imply?

Supported Self-supply does not imply that the government has no role to play or that the poor are left by themselves. Key roles of government under a Supported Self-supply approach are standardization and regulation, capacity building and promotion, but can also entail targeted subsidies or other forms of supporting the provision of services. However, to the contrary to other approaches, under a Self-supply approach government is not actively involved in the drilling of boreholes– this is left to local private sector actors (typically small and medium enterprises, or in contracting such services- this is left to the users themselves.

 What are examples of Self-supply at scale?

Examples of Supported Self-supply initiatives at scale are:
o Rainwater Harvesting in various parts of the country,
o Upgraded Family Wells in rural areas and
o SMART Centre Approach

Self-supply exists in almost all countries around the world and in specific times and areas can be the dominant form of service provision.

 How big is Self-supply?

Self-supply has been going on for millennia, as people always needed to have some sort of water supply, even before government, companies or NGOs existed. Today, Self-supply is particularly widespread in South Asia (in countries like India and Bangladesh, millions of people have provided themselves with hand pumps) and in the region of the former Soviet Union/Eastern Europe, where the collapse of many governmental entities meant that people had to provide water by themselves.

 Why is Self-supply relevant?

Whereas there has been significant progress over the past few decades in providing billions of people with access to water, this progress has been particularly slow in the least developed countries. Within each country, progress has been slower in rural than in urban areas, and the more progress is made, the more difficult it becomes. According to the Sustainable Development Goals, by 2030 all people need to have access to sustainably managed water services. Particularly for people living in remote and sparsely populated areas the SDGs cannot be achieved without Self-supply. At the same time, by supporting Self-supply, progress can be achieved in several other SDGs, not only SDG 6 (water), but also in reducing poverty, increasing food-security and productivity, among others.

The strategy also set Theme topics:

• Monitoring, regulation and support of Self-supply;
• Capacity building of providers and vocational training;
• Harnessing the rain

o Accelerating Self Supply - A Case Study from Zambia (RWSN, 2018)
o Accelerating Self Supply - A Case Study from Uganda (RWSN, 2018)
o Accelerating Self Supply - A Case Study from Ethiopia (RWSN, 2019)
o Accelerating Self Supply - A Case Study from Mali (RWSN, 2019)