RWSN is about connecting people and to do this online we use a platform called Dgroups, which is run by the non-for-profit Dgroups Foundation, based in the Netherlands. The Dgroups vision is:

A world where every person is able to contribute constructively to dialogue and decision-making for international development and social justice

A world where every person is able to contribute constructively to dialogue and decision-making for international development and social justice - See more at:

Dgroups vision:

A world where every person is able to contribute constructively to dialogue and decision-making for international development and social justice

- See more at:

Dgroups vision:

A world where every person is able to contribute constructively to dialogue and decision-making for international development and social justice

- See more at:

Skat Foundation, on behalf of RWSN, is a member of Dgroups, which gives us a stake in how the platform is run and developed. Dgroups was chosen because it has been designed specifically for development professionals and can be used through email and through a low-bandwidth website, thus making it ideal for communicating with members who have limited internet connectivity.

Our area of Dgroups has a main community of nearly 8,000 members which we use as our membership database. It is tightly controlled and only used for sending out quarterly newsletters and major announcements.

Discussion areas have been set up around the four RWSN themes, and cross-cutting topics and special interests. We consider setting up sub-communities if there is a champion to lead and moderate the group and enough interest from members. 

How to Join

Follow the links below to go the web page for each community and to appy to join, if you are not already a member. Please note that being a member of one community (or the overall network) does not automatically give you access to the sub-communities. Please apply through the web page for each community and the moderator for that community will let you in. Some communities are more active that anothers. Some sub-communities are nested within others that are related, so you will receive emails from and can contribute to both.


The communities are generally there for open discussion and question and answer on the topic of that community (and are moderated to keep them on track). However, usually once a year we have a structrued e-discussion, which typically lasts four weeks and uses weekly questions and summaries to stimate debate on a particular topic. At the bottom of the page you will find links to summaries and syntheses of recent e-discussions.

These are very powerful and effective events at generating knowledge exchange across the world and building up a valuable aggregation of knowledge. In some cases they have helped drive the strategy of the network and our partners.

The RWSN Dgroups directory

Overall RWSN Community

Theme sub-communities
Topic sub-communities
Geographic/Language sub-communities

How to use Dgroups

Download our quick guide, available in [English] and [French]

Related Resources

Community management of water points: more problem than solution?

RWSN Dgroups discussion synthesis

This note summarizes some of the broad points of a June 2017 RWSN blog written by Dr Ellie Chowns on communitybased management (CBM) and the ensuing discussion on the RWSN Sustainable Services DGroup, to which many RWSN members contributed .

CBM is the prevalent management model for rural water supply. So what are the issues?
• Lack of accountability: Community management enables government officials and donors alike to abdicate responsibility for ensuring long-term sustainable water services.
• Inefficiency and lack of sustainability: Preventive maintenance is almost never done, repairs are often slow and sub-standard, and committees are unable to collect and save funds.
• Disempowerment: CBM reinforces existing community power relations, thereby breeding conflict rather than strengthening social capital.
• Lack of scalability and dependence on external support: The CBM model has never reliably worked at any scale but is continued due to a lack of viable, or proven alternative. One can always find 'successful' case studies of where it has worked fantastically well – but these tend to be isolated systems, reliant on constant | »

Local Government and Rural Water Services that last: a way forward

Rural Water Supply Reality Check

This paper is a synthesis of the major themes discussed during the local government e-discussion held during May 2015, which included 75 contributions from 58 people presenting experiences in English, French and Spanish and cases from 43 different countries from across the globe. Each week focused on a specific theme. Dedicated week facilitators introduced the theme in the beginning of the week, led the discussion during the week and summarised the main discussion points at the end of the week. The paper highlights the discussed role local government can and does play in ensuring sustainable water service provision, the challenges that local government is facing in fulfilling these roles and responsibilities, and the opportunities for overcoming these challenges. | »

Reducing Inequalities in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

A synthesis of experiences and lessons discussed in the RWSN Equality, Non-discrimination and Inclusion (ENDI) Group 2015

Between October and November 2015 the Rural Water Supply Network’s Equality, Non-discrimination and Inclusion (ENDI) theme enjoyed lively e-discussions on Reducing Inequalities in WASH. This covered practical approaches to improve participation of everyone; inclusive infrastructure designs and information, guidance and support that exist on these. Two webinars were held on these topics, with presentations from World Vision, Messiah College, WaterAid, FCG International, and the University of Technology – Sydney . Disability, gender, menstrual hygiene management, rights to water and sanitation and school WASH from Mali, Niger, Tanzania, Nepal, Ghana, Timor-Leste and Vietnam were covered. During the e-discussions independent consultants and staff from the Church of Uganda, TEDDO, WaterAid, WEDC, Mzuzu University, the Honduran Association of Management Boards of Water Systems, Concern Worldwide, Auguaconsult, the University of Denver, the World Bank, Amref Health, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Messiah College and World Vision shared experiences. These were drawn from their or their organisation’s work in Uganda, Vietnam, Mali, Madagascar, Zambia, Nepal, Chad, Timor Leste, Tanzania, Niger, Honduras and Pakistan. Throughout the e-discussions and webinars the primary scope was rural water supply, but sanitation and hygiene were considered when relevant.

This report synthesises the online discussions, draws on relevant content from the webinars and highlights experiences and lessons learnt. It is not an extensive literature review, but does draw on existing literature beyond what was discussed during the e-discussions. | »

Short Summary on RWSN & World Vision Webinar series on Self-supply

February & March 2015

This short summary highlights some of the issues that emerged from the presentations and discussions. | »

Handpumps: where now?

A synthesis of online discussions (2012-2014)

In 2012, RWSN established as its online electronic platform for membership and discussion. The groundwater and handpump groups have been among the most active communities. The number and depth of contributions has been rich, and several members have asked for a synthesis of the discussions. They main topics that emerged were:
1. Water Quality - particularly iron and pump corrosion
2. Procurement, Quality Control and Installation
3. Sustaining handpumps - what is the average lifespan of a handpump?
4. Handpump component failures and the need to redesign public domain designs
5. The politics of new pump designs: the Squirrel Cage Pump

Join the debate at on dgroups, using the links below. | »