The Role of Private Entrepreneurs in Enhancing Impact and Ensuring Sustainability of Rural Water Supply in Vietnam
In 2007, East Meets West (EMW) implemented a project that supported private sector operators, cooperatives, and local government operators of rural water-supply schemes. A customer survey conducted following this project indicated that private operators not only provided better service than the other management models studied, but that their operations might also be more sustainable.
To further investigate this result, EMW conducted two additional surveys. An operator survey examined how well each scheme performed with respect to technical and financial criteria. A customer satisfaction survey aimed at finding out how well the owners/operators met the needs of their customers.
The operator survey showed that the private sector managed its finances more prudently than either the cooperatives or the Commune People’s Committees, and its technical operations were also conducted with greater care. Moreover, the customer satisfaction survey indicated that the private owners/operators did not achieve better profitability at the expense of the quality of service or sustainability. In fact, users felt that the private operators provided higher quality service and were more responsive than the cooperatives or local governments, and provided higher water quality.