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Comparative performance evaluation of handpump water-supply technologies in northern Kenya and The Gambia
- Foster, Tim, McSorley, Brian, Willetts, Juliet
- Hydrogeology journal 2019 v.27 no.2 pp. 535-551
- groundwater, hydrogeology, models, technology, water supply, Gambia, India, Kenya
- Safe drinking water for all is unlikely to be achieved without major improvements in the sustainability of rural water supplies in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite heavy dependence on groundwater across the African continent, there is little empirical evidence on the relative reliability of different water-lifting technologies. This study comparatively evaluated the operational performance of the BluePump against the Afridev, India Mark II and PB Mark II handpumps. The field assessment took place in Turkana County (northern Kenya) and The Gambia, contexts with contrasting environmental, social and institutional characteristics. When controlling for other variables, in both study sites the BluePump had significantly lower odds of a breakdown occurring over a 12-month period compared with other handpumps. The BluePump also had significantly lower odds of a nonfunctional status relative to the Afridev in Turkana, though no significant effect on functionality was observed relative to the India Mark II in either study site or the PB Mark II in The Gambia. In Turkana, the impact of fewer breakdowns on operational uptime and point-in-time functionality may have been moderated by a subsidised maintenance service for which communities pay a fixed annual fee irrespective of handpump type and breakdown frequency. In The Gambia, the BluePump had significantly longer breakdowns than Mark II handpumps because of a problematic maintenance model. The results indicate that technological innovations such as the BluePump can lead to operational improvements, but technology alone is no panacea and the long-term sustainability of water supplies ultimately depends upon the effectiveness of maintenance services.