How do you solve a problem like a broken water pump?

Long considered a symbol of development aid, up to 40% of handpumps in sub-Saharan Africa are broken at any one time. Technology is offering smart solutions

Over the past few decades, the humble handpump has become the go-to option for rural water supply in developing countries. They’re used to extract groundwater which is mostly clean, easy and cheap to access, and available year-round. Handpumps are usually a better option than open wells – which are highly vulnerable to contamination – and piped schemes or motorised pumps, which require the skills, finances, and management that’s often lacking in remote, rural areas.

However, though around 60,000 handpumps (pdf) are installed across sub-Saharan Africa every year, typically 30 to 40% of those in the region do not work at any one time, according to estimates made by the Rural Water Supply Network.

More often than not, broken handpumps are abandoned and fall into disuse. The World Bank has estimated that over the last 20 years this represents a loss of investment of more than $1.2bn (pdf).

Read the full article: How do you solve a problem like a broken water pump?

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