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This case study looks at district-based associations of hand pump mechanics in Uganda as a supporting mechanism for improved functionality. Presented at the 2010 IRC symposium ' Pumps, Pipes and Promises: Costs, Finances and Accountability for sustainable WASH services.

TitleConnected hand pump mechanics for improved service delivery
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMommen, B, Nekesa, J
Pagination15 p.; 15 refs.; 1 tab.; 6 fig.
Date Published2010-11-16
Place PublishedThe Hague, The Netherlands
Keywordshand pumps, pumped supply, rural areas, uganda, water sources, water supply

The limited sustainability of rural water supply in Sub-Saharan Africa is undermining the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals. As 36% of the rural water sources are non- functional in Sub-Saharan Africa, the community management used by the sector to sustain rural water is being questioned and needs rethinking. A shift from the project to a service approach is recommended, with supporting mechanisms in place to improve this situation. As communities rely on hand pump mechanics to maintain and repair their water sources, the role of these hand pump mechanics seems crucial in the sustainability of rural water sources. Several gaps have been identified in the ability of the hand pump mechanics to fulfill their role and need to be addressed. As these hand pump mechanics work as individuals without any supporting mechanism, associations of hand pump mechanism at district level could be a modality which can facilitate supporting mechanisms to address these gaps. This case study, focusing on five district-based hand pump mechanics associations in Uganda explores the ability of these associations to overcome their gaps in service delivery. The evidence shows that these associations increase the ability of these hand pump mechanics to address their problems: a) there has been an increase in working together and learning, b) increased information flow has been noted between water users, hand pump mechanics and district structures, c) the hand pump mechanics have indentified the access to spares and tools as their biggest challenge and are increasingly lobbying and planning to secure supply chains of spares and tools, and d) working together with the district water office in borehole rehabilitations has increased. These elements seem to facilitate increased transparency in the costs of rural water supply maintenance and can provide a venue for cost reduction. The accountability mechanisms have been strengthened with the establishment of these associations, the increased information flow and working together. The increased dialogue and discussions have further exposed the weaknesses in the current operation and maintenance framework in Uganda and provides a venue to strengthen this framework. [authors abstract]

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