In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three handpumps are non-functional at any given time (RWSN, 2010). This forces people to travel greater distances for water or return to unsafe water sources.Key challenges to handpump sustainability include community management systems breaking down, a lack of simple preventative maintenance by skilled mechanics, and the inability of communities to fund or source repair materials and expertise.
In 2013, Busoga Trust started a new Rehabilitation Project which exclusively carries out rehabilitations of existing water points to improve functionality. For the first time in the history of the Trust, we are also now carrying out rehabilitations on non-functional water sources not constructed by Busoga Trust.
As well as repairing the water sources, we carry out a comprehensive programme of social work in each existing community to raise hygiene standards, ensuring that clean water is used hygienically. We also empower communities to establish a strong “Water User Committee” to take care of long term management of the source.
Sustainable maintenance – Whave Solutions
Improving functionality is not just a matter of picking off broken sources one by one; it is far more important to stop them breaking down in the first place. To address this, Busoga Trust has joined in partnership with Whave Solutions (www.whave.org) to help implement their “Safe Water Security” project. This project aims to increase the long term functionality of water sources through establishment of a rural water service sector.Whave are contracting Water Service Providers (mainly local hand-pump mechanics), and assigning to each one a cluster of water sources within easy travelling distance of their home. They are then paying these service providers every month, per litre of clean water, used hygienically, for the sources in their cluster. This gives them a financial incentive to carry out proper preventative maintenance and maintain hygiene standards in communities. At the moment, Whave is providing supplementary funding but it is hoped that in years to come the communities will cover all of the costs of paying the service providers.