UPGro Science: Affordable maintenance and repair are one of the main predictors of borehole functionality, highlighting the need for effective management models to improve rural water services [S10]

TEDxOxford Talk (2020) explains the development of t he Smart Handpump (please note, the sound level of recording is quite low)

The reasons for poor water point functionality are complex; there is not a simple strong relationship between good governance and the functionality of rural water points. However, affordable maintenance and repair are one of the main predictors of rural water point functionality, pointing to the need to consider different models for the management of community boreholes. The use of existing community structures may increase functionality, but also compound inequalities. There are also major challenges for district-level repair and maintenance support, which were investigated in Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Moving away from community based management models can significantly improve the repair time for handpump boreholes by promoting links between government, professional service providers and communities to fund repairs. FundiFix in Kenya is one example of a performance-based funding model for maintenance of rural water services. The guarantee of fast repairs has reduced the downtime of rural water points in Kenya from a month to a few days. It now has over 80,000 registered and paying users in communities and schools with handpumps and piped systems.

References and further information
  1. MacAllister et al.  (2020) Comparative performance of rural water supplies during drought. Nature Comms
  2. Whaley et al (2019) Evidence, ideology, and the policy of community management in Africa, Env. Res. Letters
  3. H. Greeff, et al (2019). Distributed Inference Condition Monitoring System for Rural Infrastructure in the Developing World. IEEE Sensors Journal.
  4. Cleaver, et al. (2018). Understanding process, power, and meaning in adaptive governance: a critical institutional reading. Ecology and Society
  5. Whaley, L., (2018). The Critical Institutional Analysis and Development (CIAD) Framework. Int. J. of the Commons.
  6. Koehler, et al  (2018). A cultural theory of drinking water risks, values and institutional change. Global Env. Change,
  7. Liddle et al (2017) Water point failure in sub-Saharan Africa: the value of a systems thinking approach, Waterlines
  8. Colchester, et al  (2017) Accidental infrastructure for groundwater monitoring in Africa, Env. Modelling & Software
  9. Foster et al (2017) Evaluating waterpoint sustainability and access implications of revenue collection approaches in rural Kenya, Water Resour. Res.,
  10. Thomson, et al (2016) Performance-oriented monitoring for the water SDG – challenges, tensions and opportunities, Aquatic Procedia
  11. Whaley, L.,Cleaver, F., Mwathunga, E. (2021) Flesh and bones: Working with the grain to improve community management of water, World Development, Volume 138, February 2021, 105286
  12. Hope and Ballon (2021) Individual choices and universal rights for drinking water in rural Africa
  13. MacAllister, et al. (2021) Functionality and resilience of hand-pumped boreholes in sub-Saharan Africa. In: Water & Health Conference: Research, Policy and Practice, Online, 4-8 Oct 2021. University of North Carolina.


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