The Hidden Crisis project team have now published a Technical Brief on the methods developed and used by the project to assess rural water supply functionality and levels of performance – now available from here.
This technical brief is aimed at sharing the learning and approaches developed by the project to look at how the functionality and performance levels of boreholes equipped with handpumps (HPBs), can be assessed using a common set of definitions and methods. A tiered approach to defining and measuring functionality was found to be useful to examining functionality for different scales and purposes of monitoring.
The report is aimed at national and regional actors involved in the provision and monitoring of rural water supply functionality.
The brief sets out the tiered functionality definitions, and accompanying survey methods, which were developed by the project and have been applied in functionality surveys across Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi .
The Sustainable Development Goals have set an agenda for transformational change in water access, aiming for secure household connections globally. Despite this goal, communal groundwater supplies are likely to remain the main source of improved water supplies for many rural areas in Africa and South Asia for decades to come.
Understanding the poor functionality of existing communal supplies remains, therefore, a priority. A critical first step is to establish a sector-wide definition of borehole supply functionality and a standard method of its assessment.
Groundwater plays a central role in Increasing safe water access – particularly in Africa and Asia, but has there are long-running challenges in keeping such supplies working.
“Functionality” is term often used as a measurable indicator of whether a water point is working or not.
The most common definition of “functionality” is a binary “is it working at time of inspection? Yes/No” However, this is just one of six approaches to defining water point functionality.
A tiered assessment is recommended based on flow quantity, quality and downtime period(s) over the previous year
Having a standardised approach to assessing functionality is important to allow data from different locations and different times to be compared so that the deeper, systematic complexities and failures can be better understood and addressed.