UPGro Science: New methods of water point functionality developed and tested [S9]

Water point functionality surveys indicate that new methods for defining and measuring water point functionality are required to adequately monitor progress towards SDG6 for safely managed water services.

There are many definitions for water point functionality, which influence whether a water point is classed as functional or not. Most national surveys are based on a binary (functional/non-functional) definition, measured at a single point in time. When the yield, reliability and quality of water from a source are taken into consideration, functionality rates of rural water points, specifically hand pump boreholes, are significantly lower than national estimates suggest.

Sensors installed on handpumps can automatically send data on usage provide objective and continuous data to monitor rural waterpoints. Information can inform institutional design across areas of accountability, planning and finance. Investments in infrastructure can be monitored to improve accountability and value-for-money assessments. In turn, this can allocate limited resources in planning new infrastructure with accurate information on demand and seasonal peaks. Finally, the information is unlocking performance-based funding which can support the transition of the sector to a more professional and non-donor dependent model in the future.

References and further information
  1. Mkandawire et al (2020) An analysis of hand pump boreholes functionality in Malawi, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
  2. Fallas et al,(2019) UPGRO Hidden Crisis Research consortium: Project approach for defining and assessing rural water supply functionality and levels of performance. 
  3. Liddle, et al.. (2018) Review of handpump-borehole implementation in Uganda.
  4. Kebede, S.et al.. (2017) UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium : unravelling past failures for future success in Rural Water Supply. Survey 1 Results, Country Report Ethiopia.
  5. Owor, et al. (2017) UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium. Survey 1 Country Report, Uganda.
  6. Mwathunga, et al.. (2017) UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium. Survey 1 Country Report, Malawi
  7. Bonsor, et al (2018)  “The need for a standard approach to assessing the functionality of rural community water supplies” Hydrogeol J
  8. Whaley (2017) “Can ‘functionality’ save the community management model of rural water supply?” Water Resources and Rural Development
  9. Carter, et al. (2016) “Beyond ‘functionality’ of handpump-supplied rural water services in developing countries “ Waterlines
  10. Oxford/RFL (2014) “From Rights to Results in Rural Water Services – Evidence from Kyuso, Kenya”.


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