Most people can probably think of wells in their area that were built, worked well for several years and then were no longer used when the pump broke. Often, wells and water pumps are provided by outside agencies. There may be ceremonies to celebrate their arrival, but often no-one in the community takes responsibility for maintaining them. The pumps are well used until they develop problems. Eventually, they break and remain broken because no-one knows how to mend them.
Training people with the skills to maintain and repair water pumps is almost as important as installing them. Without these skills the work and investment will be wasted. Water committees should appoint and obtain training for people to maintain the water pumps. Unlike men who may travel and work elsewhere, women are more likely to remain in the community. They have a personal interest in maintaining water supplies so may be good people to train. Water committees may agree to charge users a small fee for regular supplies of water. This fund would provide money for regular maintenance, spare parts and eventually to replace the pump.
- Do people know of any broken or faulty water pumps? If so, what caused the problems?
- Who takes responsibility for repairing the pump or reporting the problem?
- Who has the skills to maintain pumps locally? How much do they charge?
- Would women be good people to train to maintain and repair water pumps? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of training women with these skills?
- How could households be charged a small amount for the provision of safe water? How much would be recommended? Who should collect this payment? Where should the money be kept safely until needed?
- When installing a new pump, how can we make sure we choose a type that is reliable with readily available spare parts?
- Should a water committee buy a stock of spare parts (those that wear out more quickly) for a pump in advance?
- Prepare a role-play to help community members understand the value of making small regular payments to ensure their water pump will remain in good working order.
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