From rights to results in rural water services
New evidence to translate the human right to water into measureable results in rural Africa is presented in a new report funded by UK Department for International Development and led by Oxford University.
Institutional transformations are required if Africa is to deliver the universal Human Right to Water to 275 million rural people without improved water services. Improving the reliability of one million handpumps which should deliver drinking water to over 200 million rural Africans will be a major contribution to translating water rights into measureable results. This study tests a new maintenance service model over a one year period in rural Kenya using mobile-enabled data to improve operational and financial performance by reducing risks at scale.
The report, produced by the Smith School Water Programme, highlights results that have led to:
- a ten-fold reduction in handpump downtime (days not working),
- a shift to 98 per cent of handpumps functioning,
- a fairer and more flexible payment model contingent on service delivery,
- new and objective metrics to guide water service regulatory reform,
- a revised financial architecture shaped by an output-based payment model.
The model outlines a new and replicable framework for policy and investment behaviour informed by rural water users’ more expansive views of the design and delivery of rural water institutions than currently prescribed.
Report launched at ‘Smart Handpump’ day
The report was launched at an event at Kellogg College on 5 March hosted by the Oxford Centre for Affordable Healthcare Technology, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, School of Geography and the Environment and Department of Engineering Science.
Attendees from DFID, ARM, Sequoia Technology, Oxfam and ESRC were invited to meet the ‘Smart Handpump’ that has been installed in the college grounds. Smart Handpumps use a mobile-enabled transmitter which sends data on pump usage, rapidly detecting any failures and enabling repairs to be made. The technology is currently being piloted in rural Kenya and feeds into ongoing work at Oxford University on improving institutions to measurably reduce poverty.