A categorization of water system breakdowns: Evidence from Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda

In rural sub-Saharan Africa, one in three hand pumps are non-functional at any time. While there is some evidence describing factors associated with non-functional water systems, there is little evidence describing the categories of water system breakdowns that commonly occur. Insufficient water availability from broken down systems can force people to use unimproved water sources, which undermines the health benefits of an improved water source. We categorized common water system breakdowns using quantitative and qualitative monitoring data from Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda (each N N 3600 water systems) and examined how breakdown category varies by water system type and management characteristics. Specific broken parts were mentioned more frequently than all other reasons for breakdown; hardware parts frequently found at fault for breakdown were aprons (Liberia), pipes (Tanzania and Uganda), taps/spouts (Tanzania and Uganda), and lift mechanisms (Nigeria). Statistically significant differences in breakdown category were identified based on system type, age, management type, and fee collection type. Categorization can help to identify common reasons for water system breakdown. The analysis of these data can be used to develop improved monitoring instruments to inform actors of different breakdown types and provide reasons for system non-functionality. Improved monitoring instruments would enable actors to target appropriate resources to address specific breakdowns likely to arise based on system type and management characteristics in order to inform improved implementation of and post-construction support for water systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

A categorization of water system breakdowns: Evidence from Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. T. Klug, R. Cronk, K. F. Shields, J. Bartram. 2018. Science of the Total Environment 619, pp. 1126-1132. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.183