Weeks before the installation of a deep tube-well, our field staffs start surveying the village and test its tube-wells. They also initiate conversations with villagers about what other arrangements, apart from the deep tube-well itself, would be required for a well-functioning community-based drinking water supply: a bank account would have to be opened for saving water user contributions to maintenance; spare parts and materials would have to be purchased; a committee would have to be set up to act on the decisions and to take on maintenance responsibilities; accessible land space would have to be found for the water supply.
Several community meetings lead to the identification of an appropriate site. Some families usually offer to provide small plots of their land adjacent to a public road. The various options are collected and mapped out.
We anticipate that the poorest sections of the community won’t be able to select their representatives free from the interests of the more dominant classes. We also anticipate that the women will be constrained in a traditionally male-dominated culture. The time spent surveying and testing shallow tube-wells helps our staff to broadly picture significant social relationships and dependencies. Key information can only be gathered discretely and informally, by relying on the building of trust with villagers. It is an essential starting point for improving representation of marginalised people during the community meetings.