When the solution becomes a problem: 50.000 water supply points failed in Africa
DIIS Researchers comment on the worrying findings of a new report
At the recent World Water Day, a report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) warned that an estimated 50,000 boreholes, wells and hand-pumps are falling into disrepair across the African continent. The water supply points were in many cases built recently with donor support, but are now failing as a result of poor planning and lack of resources. Some 250 million US Dollars worth of aid may have been lost.
Speaking in Danish Radio’s P1, DIIS researcher Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde commented that such projects may fail due to poor management and little involvement of local stakeholders. She emphasized that building local institutions to support water supply infrastructure requires a coordinated and demand-driven approach by donors and governments.
Meanwhile, DIIS researcher Mikkel Funder commented on the causes and effects of failed water projects in the Danish newspaper Information. While recognizing that some water projects are poorly planned, he also pointed to the need for national governments to follow up on their formal commitments to rural development by ensuring that the institutional and economic frameworks for water projects in rural areas are sustained even after donor funding has ceased.
IIED report available here
P1 radio broadcast available here
Newspaper article in Information available here
Signe Marie Cold Ravnkilde and Mikkel Funder are members of the Competing for Water research programme, which maps and explores local water conflict and cooperation in five countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The programme is coordinated by DIIS and includes partners in Bolivia, Mali, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa and the UK.