Sustainable operations and maintenance of water supplies: a conceptual model for engineers and development workers : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies and Agricultural Engineering at Massey University


There have been major problems with the sustainability of many water supply projects in the Developing World. One major area that influences this sustainability is the ongoing operation and maintenance of the water supply. A number of different surveys have shown that within 12 months of a water project being constructed and handed over to the community or government water dept. between 30-70% are not functioning at all or are not producing their original design supply. The purpose of the research was to produce a conceptual model that could be used by development agencies and engineers to increase the sustainability of water supplies. A review of the literature revealed that the major factors influencing sustainable operation and maintenance of water supplies were, technology, infrastructure for parts, training of both agency and community in maintenance of the water supply, the source of funding for O & M, design, ownership and responsibility, and management. These factors were incorporated into a conceptual model, each factor fitting into one or more of the different stages of a water supply project, namely: 1. Planning; 2. Design; 3. Construction; 4. Transfer Ceremony; and 5. Operations. There were up to four major groups of people involved in this process, namely, an International Development Agency, a Government Water Dept., a Community Water Committee, and a Community or Users. Surveys were conducted in Ethiopia, looking at both urban and rural water projects. The results were used to substantiate the model and/or to revise the model. It was concluded from the survey that the following were influential upon sustainable operation and maintenance in Ethiopia: Community ownership does not equate to community responsibility for O & M; Training of the individual or group responsible for O & M is essential; A lack of infrastructure leds to O & M problems; And, community involvement in all stages of the water supply project is essential. The revised conceptual model presents the processes and factors needed to instigate sustainable O & M of water supply projects in developing countries

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