Sustainable Development Success Stories

Water Bank Project

Location 76 Provinces throughout Thailand.
Responsible Organisation WHO and the Ministry of Public Health.
Description Inadequacy of water sources, remoteness of villages, and lack of availability of appropriate technologies for different geophysical locations are identified as some of the major factors that constrain the sustainability in rural water supply. An innovative Water Bank Project has been devised by the Department of Health to provide safe drinking water to rural communities, particularly in areas of repeated draughts.

A Water Bank is a combination of three concrete container systems together with its own roofed-catchment for rainwater. The capacity of a system is about 99 cubic meters. The communities themselves, through a community committee, manage the Bank. The committee is responsible for quality control, financing, operation and maintenance, and distribution of water to the villagers. The stock of water comes from rainfall collected through roofed catchment. If the rainwater is not adequate, the stock is increased through available water supply sources.

The community committee works closely with the Provincial Health Authority in maintaining water quality. When problems are encountered, the community works out the solutions, if necessary, with the assistance of local officials.

In Thailand the villagers are increasingly participating in community level self-help activities. Private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also involved in supporting investments in the rural areas. The Government emphasizes its efforts on providing technically viable solutions by increasing the investments in the rural water supply sector.

Issues Addressed Freshwater management, Capacity building, Health
Result Achieved Nearly 1,500 units have been established (year 1996). The Water Bank Project added a new dimension in rural community development by enabling villagers to manage one of their basic needs. The provision of safe rural water supply is increased as a precondition for improving health, productivity and living environments of the villagers.
Lessons Learned Thailand identified the following general principles for the achievement of an effective rural water supply approach: i) Water is an economic as well as a social goods and should be managed as such; and ii) Water should be managed at the lowest appropriate level, with users involved in the planning and implementation of projects; to be linked with:
  • Availability and purity;

  • Easiness in operation;

  • Shared responsibility between the government and the NGOs;

  • International standards for drinking water use;

  • Self-help; and

  • Surveillance and analysis of the quality of water supply.

Contact Department of Health
Ministry of Public Health
Attn. Director-General
Tiwanond Road, Nonthaburi, Thailand 11000
Tel. (66 2) 5918141-2; Fax (66 2) 5918181