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Self-supply of water and sanitation (also called household-led water supply or individual supply) refers to an approach of incremental improvements to water and sanitation services, which are mainly financed by the user. People around the world have been using this approach over centuries to incrementally upgrade their water and sanitation services. The approach does not refer to a specific technology or type of water source or sanitation service although it does have to be feasible to use and construct at a low cost and mostly using tools locally available. The approach is rather about an incremental improvement of these services. It is a market-based approach and commonly does not involve product subsidies.

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Household self-supply: Does safely managed water only come from pipes?

On March 22, the HWTS Network hosted a very interesting webinar on self-supply water. @Diana Gonzalez delivered a fantastic presentation showing some surprising data on self-supply in  South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific. 

The discussion was great and we had several questions from the participants. The questions that were not answered during the Q&A session because of the timing will be posted in this Threaded Discussion. I encourage everyone to participate and interact. 

New Book on Self-Supply (free)

Great new publication by Sally Sutton and John Butterworth on self-supply, available for free download:


While governments and development partners focus on improving community and utility-managed water supplies to ensure access for all, hundreds of millions of people are taking actions to supply their own water. In the WASH sector household investment in construction and improvement of facilities is widely employed in sanitation but in water similar efforts are ignored. Recognition of the contribution of self-supply towards universal access to water and its full potential, is hampered by a lack of data, analysis and guidance.

This well-reasoned source book highlights the magnitude of the contribution of self-supply to urban and rural water provision world-wide, and the gains that are possible when governments recognise and support household-led supply development and up-grading. With limited public finances in low- (and many middle-) income countries, self-supply can fill gaps in public provision, especially amongst low-density rural populations. The book focuses on sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the greatest predicted shortfall in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for water.

Household supplies can be created, or accelerated to basic or safely managed levels, through approaches that build on the investment and actions of families, with the availability of technology options and cost-effective support from the private and public sectors. The role of self-supply needs greater recognition and a change in mindset of governments, development partners and practitioners if water services are to be extended to all and no-one is to be left... (More)