Hidden crisis: Strengthening the evidence base on the sustainability of rural groundwater services

The problem: Rural water boreholes with handpumps suffer high failure rates. Understanding the causes of these failures is necessary to carry out more effective service provision

The approach: A conceptual framework involving symptoms, causal factors and underlying conditions. Field studies including community meetings and detailed borehole / handpump inspections.

Key findings: Low yield and poor water quality are symptomatic of poor siting, construction and materials selection. Underlying causes lie in poor practices of implementing agencies, and especially the lack of competent construction supervision.

Where? Uganda

Consortium grant? Yes – visit the Hidden Crisis Consortium page

Principal Investigator: John Chilton, International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)

Research Team:

  • Prof. Alan MacDonald, British Geological Survey
  • Helen Bonsor, British Geological Survey
  • Paul Wilson. British Geological Survey
  • Prof. Frances Cleaver, Sheffield University
  • Vincent Casey, WaterAid
  • Rebecca Alowo, WaterAid
  • Geoffrey Kidega Willy, WaterAid
  • Naomi Oates, ODI
  • Roger Calow, ODI
  • Bennie Mangeni, Makerere University
  • Martin Tumutungire, Makerere University
  • Dr Callist Tindimugaya, Ministry of Water and Environment Uganda
  • Eng Aaron Kabirizi, Ministry of Water and Environment Uganda
  • Francis Ediau, TEDDO
  • Andrew Alemu, TEDDO
  • Daniel Emadu, TEDDO
  • David Etama, TEDDO
  • Moses Opua, WEDA
  • Prof. Richard Carter, Richard Carter and Associates
  • Sophie McPhillips, Richard Carter and Associates

Research Organisations:

  • British Geological Survey (BGS) – Grant NE/L001969/1
  • WaterAid (WA)
  • Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Grant NE/L001799/1
  • Makerere University (MU)
  • Ministry of Water and Environment Uganda (MWE)
  • WEDA
  • Richard Carter and Associates Ltd (RCA)

Find out more:


  1. A very good evidence based research study that will unveil all the hidden crisis I.e the underlying causes of high rate of failure in Rural Water supply in Africa. The UPGRo Survey 2 Survey in Uganda is going on very well and thanks to BGS and UK Government.
    Patrick Mecak- WaterAid Uganda
    Team Leader UPGro Survey 2, Uganda.

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