‘Slippage’: The Bane of Rural Drinking Water Sector (A Study of Extent and Causes in Andhra Pradesh)

V. Ratna Reddy, M. S. Ramamohan Rao, M. Venkataswamy
JEL codes: 
Working Paper No. 87

Slippage is one of the main bottlenecks of achieving full coverage of water and sanitation services in India. Slippage is the term often used to reflect unsustainable service delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, especially in rural areas. Off late slippage is attracting attention at the policy level though slippage is as old as the coverage of water supply services. This paper makes an attempt to identify the causes of slippage in a systematic manner. The broad objectives of the paper include: i) assess the extent of slippage at the national and state level; ii) identify the causes of slippage at various levels; and iii) provide some pointers for policy based on the analysis.
The extent of slippage is quite substantial even at the aggregate level. The situation is alarming in some of the states where the extent of slippage is as high as 60 percent. Our analysis at the national, state and habitation levels suggests strongly that policy makers should look beyond the often repeated supply sided strategies. As evident from the experience of Andhra Pradesh, the demand side and governance factors play an equally, if not more, important role in addressing the sustainability issues. So far the experiences are that large investments in water sector would not automatically lead to increase in coverage. The sector also needs a sound policy and capacity so that money is spent effectively and leads to increased water security. The policy should also address resource sustainability and behavioural change goals instead of relying upon a one-sided target driven approach. These aspects are highlighted in the proposed guidelines and their effective implementation needs to be ensured.