What does it take to sustain sustainability?

water services that last

As argued several times in this blog, post-construction support is one of the keys to sustainability of rural water supplies. One element of post-construction support is monitoring of aspects such as service levels and the performance of service providers, through which the support providers can better target their assistance. The last few years have seen a boom in efforts to set up information and monitoring systems of rural water supplies in many countries. Some were in first instance a one-off mapping exercise of all water points in a country; others were developed with the aim of regular updating for ongoing monitoring purposes. Particularly, cellphone technology has been instrumental in speeding up this process, as it is used in systems like FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch). A key question that comes back in the discussions on the topic (see for example the excellent discussion on the Rural Water Supply Network’s

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RWSN Discusses Water Point Mapping

RWSN is hosting two lively discussions about water point mapping (wpm), one on the RWSN LinkedIn group, and the other at the RWSN Dgroups space.   This blog provides a summary of the LinkedIn discussion.

For those of you who are completely new to water point mapping, the next section gives a basic introduction  (adapted from Mobile Phones and WPM).

Introduction to Water Point Mapping

Chadian women revert to drawing water manually, after pulley system fails. (c) Jean Claude Balcet

•     Water point mapping is essentially about creating databases, or inventories, of individual water points (standposts, handpumps, etc.)  The information can then be used for a variety of purposes: investment planning, advocacy, analysis of various sorts (e.g., most common reasons for non-functioning water points), and so forth.  The data on physical locations can be used to create maps of water points, but all kinds of additional visualization and analysis (tables, charts, statistics, etc.) are possible .

•     Technology has revolutionized water point mapping, and field surveys generally.  Gone are the days of paper questionnaires, manual data entry, and monopoly control over how and when the data are analyzed.  Instead, the data collector enters the information on a mobile phone, from which it can be uploaded into a database on the Internet, and analyzed by users located anywhere with Internet access, using software that makes it easy to analyze and present the data in a variety of ways.

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