Beyond coverage as a metric for SDG 6 success in the decade of action (2020-2030), the sustainability burden of rural community handpumps in Malawi

  • Jonathan Truslove

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Access to reliable and safe water has been recognised as a fundamental human right across the last 20 years of global goals. Handpumps have played a fundamental role in increasing the number of people with access to safe water for rural populations in low-income countries. However, monitoring indicators and investments based solely on increasing coverage alongside the challenge of maintaining handpumps across their intended life-cycle, may risk hiding low and inherently unsustainable services for rural communities in low-income regions.;This thesis addresses the need to move beyond coverage as a metric for success in the global goals. By investigating the sustainability burden on decentralised rural water supply in Malawi, through a comprehensive national monitoring dataset.;First, the impact a focus on drinking water coverage in global goals and Malawian rural water supply policy is addressed. The acceleration to meet targets, coupled with challenges of community based management, risks unsustainable infrastructure and a loss of the intended benefits. Second, the variation of tariffs to maintain water supply infrastructure are investigated. Significant explanatory variables associated with considering affordability and operations and maintenance costs are identified through regression analysis. Finally, the principles of life-cycle costing are adopted to determine the capacity of rural service providers sustaining infrastructure across their intended life-cycle.;Findings show low costing repairs are prioritised while high costing repairs are left until the complete failure of the asset. Regression analysis further identifies significant variables that increase the likelihood of handpump breakdown.;As the global goals move into the decade of action (2020-2030), increased efforts towards capacity building, localising the goals, significant explanatory factors and identifying risks relating to sustaining services are required. True representation of rural service provision may be misrepresented if the lessons of the global goals to date are not fed back into monitoring strategies and investment appraisal.
Date of Award15 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorRobert Kalin (Supervisor) & Andrea Coulson (Supervisor)

Cite this