Review of handpump-borehole implementation in Uganda

Liddle, E.; Fenner, R.. 2018 Review of handpump-borehole implementation in Uganda. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 96pp. (OR/18/002) (Unpublished)

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Access to an improved water source has steadily increased in rural Uganda over the past decade, from 63% in June 2007 to 70% in June 2017 according to the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE, 2007; MWE, 2017). A number of sector actors have raised concerns, however, over the extent to which these sources are providing safe and adequate quantities of water post-construction. Using a tiered approach to assess functionality enables greater insight to levels of performance of functionality within the country (Bonsor et al., 2018). Work by Owor et al. (2017), using a tiered approach across a representative sample of sites across Uganda, for example, found 55%1 of handpump-boreholes (HPBs from here on) to be working on the day of testing. However, only 34% of these HPBs were able to sustain a yield of ≥ 10 L/min; and only 24% of the HPBs provided sufficient yield and quality (according to WHO 1993 guidelines for drinking water). A number of factors could be causing these HPB failures. Previous studies across sub-Saharan Africa2 have found the reasons for HPB failure to stem from either: a) the quality of work conducted during siting and drilling/installation (D/I) or b) the extent, quality, and oversight of operations and maintenance post-construction. This research focuses on the former. More specifically, this research seeks to understand the siting and D/I process in Uganda and aims to identify any factors within this process that may be adversely affecting the quality of the siting and D/I work, and the subsequent functionality of rural Ugandan HPBs. In addressing this aim, eighty semi-structured interviews were conducted in Uganda in 2017. These included interviews with district water offices and district procurement offices (across twenty districts), civil society organisations, drilling contractors, groundwater consultants, the Ministry of Water and Environment, and the Ugandan Drilling Contractors Association. This report presents the findings from these interviews, including an overview of who is conducting the siting, D/I, and supervision work, how they are procured, the types of contracts that are being used, the prices paid, and their on-the-ground practices, as well as an overview of the key concerns that were noted within each of these aspects. Key concerns include: i) the prolific use of turnkey contracts that are paid via lump sum no-water-no-pay payments terms3; ii) the exclusion of qualified consultants when it comes to the siting and supervision work; iii) low drilling contractor (DC) and consultant (if procured) contract prices; iv) procurement delays and bribes during procurement; and v) the use of low-quality and/or hydrogeologically inappropriate materials and borehole designs. A number of additional concerns are noted in the report, many of which are related to those listed above. When looking at each of these key concerns in more detail, several underlying issues were found to explain each of these concerns. Turnkey contracts with lump sum no-water-no-pay payment terms, for example, are being used because: a) Implementing agencies (IAs)4 do not want to pay for unsuccessful boreholes (IAs want to drill as many HPBs as possible; paying for unsuccessful boreholes is seen to be a waste of money), b) IAs do not trust consultants (‘briefcase consultants’ have performed poorly in the past), and c) IAs find turnkey contracts with lump sum no-water-no-pay payment terms easier to manage (there is no need to count metres of casing used etc so the IA does not need to be on-site). Given the complex nature of each of the concerns noted, a series of holistic interventions are needed. Several suggestions are provided in the final section of this report. We do not attempt to have all the answers; many of the next steps will need to be determined by those within Uganda, specifically those in the Ministry of Water and Environment. It is vital, however, that we highlight the fact that many of the key concerns stem from a series of underlying issues, as highlighted for turnkey contracts above. These underlying issues must be at the forefront of any future directive, policy, or intervention; if these underlying issues are not addressed, the directive, policy, or intervention will inevitably fail. Take the issue of galvanised iron (GI) rising mains, for example; GI rising mains were being specified by 48% of the IAs interviewed, regardless of the MWE directive (issued in November 2016) that stated that all HPB GI use must stop. Why are IAs still specifying GI? - IAs do not want to cover the additional cost of stainless steel rising mains (which are 4 – 5 x more expensive) as this will increase the price per HPB and thus limit their ability to meet new water source targets. DCs are therefore continuing to install GI – they cannot afford to install stainless steel if they are not going to be paid for doing so. The underlying issues must therefore be at the forefront of any future directive, policy, or intervention. It is also crucial that future directives, policies, and interventions to target all actors within IAs; superiors who influence IA protocols and/or control project manager decisions must be actively involved. If they are not, project managers will not be able to implement the new directive, policy, or intervention. These issues are explained in more detail throughout the report.

Item Type: Publication - Report (UNSPECIFIED)
Funders/Sponsors: University of Cambridge, Dept of Engineering, Centre for Sustainable Development, British Geological Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed, but not externally peer-reviewed.
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater
Date made live: 30 Jul 2018 12:39 +0 (UTC)

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