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Understanding the functionality and burden on decentralised rural water supply : influence of millennium development goal 7c coverage targets

Truslove, Jonathan P. and Miller, Alexandra V. M. and Mannix, Nicholas and Nhlema, Muthi and Rivett, Michael O. and Coulson, Andrea B. and Mleta, Prince and Kalin, Robert M. (2019) Understanding the functionality and burden on decentralised rural water supply : influence of millennium development goal 7c coverage targets. Water (Switzerland), 11 (3). ISSN 2073-4441

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The sustainability of rural groundwater supply infrastructure, primarily boreholes fitted with hand pumps, remains a challenge. This study evaluates whether coverage targets set out within the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) inadvertently increased the challenge to sustainably manage water supply infrastructure. Furthermore, the drive towards decentralised service delivery contributes to the financial burden of water supply assets. A sample size of 14,943 Afridev hand pump boreholes was extracted from a comprehensive live data set of 68,984 water points across Malawi to investigate the sustainability burden as emphasis shifts to the 2030 agenda. The results demonstrate that the push for coverage within the MDG era has impacted the sustainability of assets. A lack of proactive approaches towards major repairs and sub-standard borehole construction alongside aging infrastructure contributes to reduced functionality of decentralised supplies. Furthermore, costly rehabilitation is required to bring assets to operational standards, in which external support is commonly relied upon. Acceleration towards the coverage targets has contributed towards unsustainable infrastructure that has further implications moving forward. These findings support the need for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) investment planning to move from a focus on coverage targets to a focus on quality infrastructure and proactive monitoring approaches to reduce the future burden placed on communities.