Barriers to handpump serviceability in Malawi : life-cycle costing for sustainable service delivery

Truslove, Jonathan Peter and Coulson, Andrea B and Mblame, Emma and Kalin, Robert (2020) Barriers to handpump serviceability in Malawi : life-cycle costing for sustainable service delivery. Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 6 (8). pp. 2138-2152. ISSN 2053-1419 (

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The implementation of handpumps has contributed to increased improved water access. However, 'universal access' as the metric for success within Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, potentially conceals fundamental barriers for sustainable services and hinders SDG 6 target success. Tariffs, in the form of household contributions, are the most common form of financial provision for the maintenance of rural water supplies. However, the annualised financial resources significantly vary across local contexts. Four tariff scenarios (collected per month, when required for repairs, per year and no tariff) were investigated across the life-cycle of 21 997 Afridev handpumps in Malawi. Known local costs for Afridev components from suppliers in Malawi were used to determine the potential shortfall in financial resources over the handpumps' 15 year design life. Domains that influence functionality, such as the operations, maintenance and quality of infrastructure, were also investigated to identify significant factors impacting the sustainability of the handpumps. Logistic regression indicates sub-standard installations (i.e. seasonality and poor water quality), structural damage to civil works, no preventative maintenance, lack of spare parts on site and a shortfall in potential financial resources were significantly associated with the poor status of infrastructure (broken or worn components) over the life-cycle of the Afridev. The findings highlight the burden placed on rural communities of maintaining inherently unsustainable assets that inevitably hinders lasting service delivery and benefits for rural communities in the SDG period and beyond. This journal is