Boreholes with handpumps are the most common type of improved drinking water source in rural Africa, but 18% to 36% of them are not functioning. The average time to repair can exceed 150 days, however performing routine maintenance would prevent this poor record of reliability. Several organizations in East Africa, including the EverFlow enterprise of International Lifeline Fund in Uganda, have recently developed professional preventative maintenance services paid for by communities. The case for scaling up this solution critically depends on how much communities are willing and able to pay for a professional handpump maintenance service. While these services are gaining appreciation in the global WASH sector, a rigorous test of demand has not been conducted. Additional evidence regarding both the financial and economic costs and benefits is also needed to understand the contexts in which such models are likely to be successful.
The objectives of this research are to assess the demand among water user committees and water users for reliable boreholes with handpumps provided by the EverFlow maintenance service. We will also quantify the financial and economic costs and benefits of the EverFlow maintenance service to water users, communities, and local government. The project will contribute new knowledge that informs scaling up EverFlow, and that helps establish the conditions under which such market-based approaches can help address sustainability of rural water infrastructure for the broader sector.