Behaviors and trends toward routine maintenance and major repairs of Afridev handpumps in rural Malawi

Jonathan P. Truslove, Andrea B. Coulson, Emma Mbalame, Robert M. Kalin

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Service provision for Afridev handpumps through community management in Malawi is a notable challenge. Essential preventative maintenance is often neglected, and repairs are undertaken on a reactive basis. The costs of major repairs are not recognized at community level and are typically neglected across the lifecycle of infrastructure or left to external stakeholders. The aim of this study was to investigate preventative maintenance and capital maintenance expenditure over the 15-year design lifecycle of 21,997 Afridev handpumps in Malawi, and how costs change based on different local tariff collection scenarios. A total of four tariff collection scenarios were investigated, for assets both subject and not subject to rehabilitation. The findings highlight poor initial capacity building into appropriate cost recovery and maintenance approaches. Major repair costs increase over the pump lifecycle when service consists of the replacement of low-cost, fast-wearing parts. Rehabilitation/major repair costs increase as a result but tend to be focused on simple longer-life components, such as pump rods. In both cases, a reliance on external support was highlighted, as larger costs are primarily covered by donors and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Proactive tariff scenarios may provide a greater capability of replacement throughout the lifecycle of major items when compared to reactive tariff scenarios. It is recommended that policy and practitioners should focus on capacity building of sustainable maintenance models that consider the full lifecycle costs of assets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1666
Number of pages18
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


  • rural water supply
  • community-based management
  • Afridev handpump
  • capital maintenance
  • Malawi
  • preventative medicine
  • rural water tariff
  • lifecycle assessment


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