Sustainability of water through maintenance of hand pumps
JEN has been working in South Sudan since 2007 with the mission of ensuring safe drinking water for the community. Right now, more than 65 boreholes have been drilled. Although the target beneficiaries are school children, communities living in the neighborhood also gained the benefits of clean water.
However, the rate at which the boreholes break down is a problem. Boreholes in the rural areas have fallen into disrepair, depriving poor communities of clean water. The boreholes have been installed by either government or nongovernmental organizations but have not been maintained by them. Maintenance has been left to communities who have neither the capacity to repair and maintain hand pumps nor have access to spare parts. Water management committees existed and functioned for all the boreholes in Lainya but, in 90% of the cases, the community made contributions for operation and maintenance only when the boreholes broke down.
In Lainya, JEN found that 35% of water points, or 208 boreholes, needed repair, Out of the 208 boreholes, 15 hand dug wells are abandoned, 63 are non functional and only 145 are in good working condition but likely to break down more than 3 days (or 3 times) in a year.
It seems simple and obvious, but there is little point in drilling boreholes if the is no system to maintain them. Every day that a borehole does not provide safe water, people are obliged to drink from unclean pools and rivers, exposing them to water-borne diseases.
That is why JEN commenced an initiative termed PPOM – Public Private Operation and Maintenance to improve rural water service delivery by moving from project based, one-off construction of water systems to delivering indefinitely sustainable rural water services.
JEN brought together interested pump mechanics in Lainya who have been trained earlier by JEN and other NGOs and taught them about operation and maintenance. Furthermore, the pump mechanics have been taken through the business development of the water sector. As a result, the pump mechanics realized the need to engage the communities in ensuring preventive operation and maintenance from a private perspective. Communities, on the other hand, are required to contribute a maintenance fee on a monthly basis. Currently, the pump mechanics are working under the supervision of the Rural Water Department.
The project is still under progress but the results seem positive for numerous pump mechanics have shown interest. JEN will continue to give support to these pump mechanics in order to improve their skills to attain sustainable water supply for rural communities.