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Tools » Delivering services » Technology » Technology Applicability Framework

Why this tool is needed?

WASH practitioners can draw upon a number of different technology options when delivering water supply, sanitation and hygiene services. There are many different types of pumps, different ways of powering pumping, different latrines and different hand-washing facilities. At the same time, there is a serious challenge facing producers, practitioners, communities, governments and development partners whereby the services introduced struggle to remain in operation or perform optimally for sufficient lengths of time to truly meet user needs. Broken down pumps, semi-functional piped schemes and abandoned latrines are all too common.

The WASH sector is currently faced with a situation where lessons learned in pilots are not widely transferred. There is little or no feedback from communities to producers and implementers of some widely used WASH technologies, which means that user difficulties persist for long periods without being resolved. Many countries do not have policies or standards in place for assessment and uptake of new WASH technologies, resulting in arbitrary adoption of options that are not fit for purpose, too expensive for users topay for, not scalable and inadequately supported at local level. Technologies that look like a good idea on paper and in marketing campaigns in developed countries can be promoted for a long time before it becomes clear that they lack relevance or practical application on the ground. The lack of guidance has led to a set of negative consequences which include:

  • introduction of technologies and services that do not meet user needs;
  • introduction of technologies that look like a good idea on paper and in marketing campaigns in developed countries but lack relevance or practical application on the ground;
  • introduction of technologies in an arbitrary way, with poor consideration of criteria likely to impact on success;
  • introduction of technologies that are too expensive for users to pay for;
  • introduction of technologies that cannot be adequately supported in the local context, resulting in breakdown and failure;
  • introduction of technologies that are not scalable because of multiple barriers to their uptake;
  • misdiagnosis of reasons for failure with good technologies dismissed as sub-standard;
  • assumptions being made about certain technologies that are rarely corroborated or that are not true but are perpetuated as myths;
  • aggressive promotion of technologies that are not appropriate;
  • overwhelming of government institutions or support agencies with technologies that are at such a basic stage of development that they are not yet fit for purpose

What the Technology Applicability Framework aims to do?

The Technology Applicability Framework (TAF) is a decision support tool on the applicability, scalability and sustainability of a specific WASH technology to provide lasting services in a specific context and
on the readiness for its introduction. The TAF can be used to: 

  • start discussion, documentation and sharing experiences about a WASH technology and approaches to scale up this technology;
  • assess the potential of a specific technology with respect to applicability, scalability, sustainability and uptake in a specific context;
  • assess readiness of a sector to scale up this technology including identification of potential measures for improving uptake;
  • monitor performance of technology and its introduction process.

The TAF should be applied when a technology is being piloted. It can also be used to support monitoring and evaluation of progress and performance of technology introduction processes.

How does the TAF work?

The TAF is designed as a participatory tool, through which relevant actors can be involved in the collection of data and in the generation and discussion of results. This allows all actors, including representatives from national and local government and users of the technology such as communities, to bring in their perspectives and views and to hear the opinions of other actors.

It is applied using a four-step procedure:

  • The TAF process starts with a screening in step 1. The screening focuses on two key questions: Is there a need for this technology? Is the technology at all feasible in this region?;
  • If the screening is positive, the technology will be comprehensively assessed against 18 indicators in step 2;
  • In step 3 the results are collected and presented;
  • In step 4 all results are comprehensively interpreted.

How much does it cost to apply the TAF?

The TAF is designed as a 4-step process, which includes field work. All four steps should be accomplished. All relevant actors should be involved in the field work and in the scoring workshop. There should be sufficient resources to accomplish all four steps properly. The application of the TAF costs around US$ 3,000 per assessment of one technology per district.

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