Innovative handpump management models

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Almost two months after my previous blog about handpump sustainability challenges, it is time to give some follow-up. From the problem analysis regarding community managed handpumps it has become clear that this management model gives many problems (especially with spare parts accessibility and functioning of water point committees). With this as starting point, at PRACTICA Foundation we are busy identifying practical experiences with innovative handpump management models.

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Although the problems with community management are widely acknowledges within the sector (by e.g. RWSN, WEDC, Worldbank and IRC), innovative alternatives are not widespread. But still some six different approaches were identified, see the table below.

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Based on this overview it needs to be said that most results from alternative handpump management models are not hopeful. The first three alternatives are similar to each other. In all these cases there were problems with the payments. An extra factor in the first approach was that the piped scheme operators were not interested in the handpumps (compared to their piped scheme) because it is more difficult to make profit out of it. In the second approach it turned out that it is very difficult to have a contract with a community, which is a group of people and not a legal person. In the third model in Burkina Faso, the users were not paying the regular fee and therefore the system did not work. The fourth option with the HPMAs gives improvements relating to the maintenance. But the inefficient structure with the water point committees remains.

The fifth option is not widely described in the literature. In Kenya some studies give very good results for these handpumps. There is a clear ownership and responsibility and a strong incentive for a rapid repair. The private owned handpumps exist both for self-supply as for selling water to the community. Although this option seems to work well, the high investment costs for the owner make that this option is not widely used.Based on this overview it needs to be said that most results from alternative handpump management models are not hopeful. The first three alternatives are similar to each other. In all these cases there were problems with the payments. An extra factor in the first approach was that the piped scheme operators were not interested in the handpumps (compared to their piped scheme) because it is more difficult to make profit out of it. In the second approach it turned out that it is very difficult to have a contract with a community, which is a group of people and not a legal person. In the third model in Burkina Faso, the users were not paying the regular fee and therefore the system did not work. The fourth option with the HPMAs gives improvements relating to the maintenance. But the inefficient structure with the water point committees remains.

The last option is only in the development phase. It is based on some calculations regarding profitability of business models. Within this model use is made of payment with a chip card, which is expensive in terms of technology but saves a lot of money in terms of labour for fee collections.

So far about the experiences with different alternative handpump management models. The experiences are not yet convincing enough to start broader implementation. But surely they give useful input for developing another alternative, combining strengths of the different alternatives. If you want to give any input regarding alternative handpump management or if you are interested to read the whole elaboration of alternatives (including references), please send an email to alida.adams@practica.org.

Alida Adams is project engineer drinking water technologies at PRACTICA Foundation

One response to “Innovative handpump management models

  1. this is the truth. the idea of Hand pump mechanics association is very good and welcome. my foresight tells me that the issue of sustainability (operating with lack of external support…) is not going to work even with the associations in place. why? simple-no amount of preparation will pay for the O&M. The only practical way is to lower the cost of business so that communities can afford to pay all capitak costs and operational costs. you know that there are several technologies and approaches to make this happen.
    In the northern parts of Uganda (Gulu, Oyam etc) that was under insurgency from the LRA for over 20 years, World vision has introduced a very challenging approach to water supply. It involves promoting the self supply approach, market-based approach as well as promoting low-cost technologies. we are implementing PoUs and manual drilling of wells up to 30m deep and installing them with low cost rope pumps produced in rural trading centers. so far 17 wells have been drilled and equipped by households. WV is creating demand and awareness on the self supply and market-based approach amongst the government, communities and private sector. the complete wells cost USD 700 compared to other wells provided by other agencies. i.e. Hand Dug Wells/machine drilled shallow wells at USD 3,320 and deep boreholes at USD 9,765. the good thing is that many poor households have paid up the entire 100% 9others are paying in installments) and this is because World Vision is seen as a regular of quality – i.e. their guarantoe incase the water source does not work.

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