Apples and oranges: a comparative assessment in WASH

water services that last

A few weeks ago, an interesting email discussion was held on “water point mapping” D-Group of the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN). Part of the discussion focused on how much it costs to map or monitor all water systems in a country. Various figures were floating around in the discussion. But when looking at these in more detail, it was like comparing apples to oranges. Some of the costs mentioned had included the staff time of (local) government, others hadn’t, as they considered this to be a fixed cost; some referred only to a simple mapping of water points, others had done a more comprehensive collection of all kinds of data of the water points; some of the data were expressed in dollars per water point, others in local currency per person. So, no immediate sense could be made of the numbers. A former colleague once said: “an apple is…

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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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