(photo: (C) Skat Consulting Ltd.)
It has recently been suggested that an up-to-date review of the issues around handpumps in drinking water services be undertaken. This would be in the form of a book, which supersedes the documents published in the 1980s including Arlosoroff’s “Community water supply: the handpump option” and IRC’s Technical Papers 10 and 25.
The new book would not be a direct update, since those documents were published in the UN Water Decade at a time of large-scale laboratory- and field-testing of handpumps and other initiatives which have not been matched in intensity since that time. However there has been much experience and reflection as well as some research and evaluation in the intervening years which now needs to be brought together in one place.
I envisage a book which places handpump services in the wider context of the SDGs, the human right to water, self-supply, community-based maintenance, financing considerations, emerging management models, and transitions from handpumped point water sources to (for example) solar pumped networked services. The book would bring together in roughly equal measures natural sciences and engineering on one hand, with issues around management and financing, social aspects and institutional arrangements on the other.
The book would be primarily addressed to organisations and individuals involved in planning, financing, implementing and supporting rural water programming – a readership which needs a broad but reasonably detailed overview of the subject. The messages for policy-makers and higher-level decision-makers will need to be distilled from the book, in shorter form. Likewise the book would not attempt to be a detailed technical document; indeed it is likely that only two chapters out of the 12 which will be included would focus on handpump technology per se.
Given the wide range of aspects to be covered, I envisage the need for a good deal of co-authorship and peer review. A publisher has already shown keen interest, and I would be optimistic that funds could be raised to enable open access to the final publication.
This message – the first on the matter – therefore invites your response to three questions: (1) do you think such a publication would be a useful contribution to current attempts to bring safe and sustainable drinking water services to all? (2) Would you like to be kept informed as to progress in the drafting of the book? (3) Would you be interested in participating as a co-author or peer-reviewer (if so, please send me a short statement outlining your area of interest and expertise).
Finally, I am well aware that there are some strong opinions and loud voices in the community of those interested in handpumps; it will be part of my lead-author/editor role to try to present evidence-based and balanced analysis while minimising opinionated and biased views. I am especially keen to find contributors and reviewers who are well-experienced in implementing handpump programmes but who are not vocal in the online discussion groups.
I look forward to hearing from you by writing to my personal email address (below) with your initial answers to the questions above, and of course any other views you may have on the matter.
Assuming the idea meets with some approval from those of you who read the correspondence on this discussion group, I will put together a draft list of contents and start to identify potential co-authors and reviewers. So please watch this space for further news!