Water Currents: Rural Water Supply

Water Currents is produced biweekly by USAID’s E3 Water Office. Each issue contains recent news and articles on water sector issues, partner and donor updates, latest sector research, and a special focus on one topic. Please provide your feedback and suggestions by contacting the waterteam@usaid.gov.

This issue on Rural Water Supply highlights a wide range of publications and studies from 2016 and 2017, including presentations from the latest Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) forum, reports from UNICEF, the Innovation Policy Platform, and others. Also included are links to websites with information on rural water supply issues. We would like to thank Sean Furey of RWSN for suggesting publications to include in this issue.  RWSN is interested in your feedback. Click here to take a survey about RWSN's services and knowledge management products.


Water Currents - In Focus


Proceedings of the 7th RWSN Forum, November 29–December 2, 2016Skat Foundation, 2017. The 2016 RWSN Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, was the first global gathering to consider the challenge of getting access to safe, affordable water worldwide by 2030. This website compiles all peer-reviewed materials presented at the conference.

Professional Water Well Drilling: A UNICEF Guidance NoteSkat FoundationUNICEF, 2016. With a particular focus on rural and small town water suppliers, this guidance note provides practical advice for organizations and individuals that are trying to raise the professionalism of groundwater development in Africa.

Local Government and Rural Water Services That Last: A Way ForwardRWSN, 2017. The paper highlights the role local governments can and do play in ensuring sustainable water service provision, the challenges that they face in fulfilling these roles and responsibilities, and the opportunities for overcoming these challenges.

Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and SDG BaselinesWHOUNICEF, July 2017. The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) 2017 update presents indicators and baseline estimates for the drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene targets within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). For the first time, hygiene estimates are reported for 70 countries.

Bringing Clean, Affordable Water to Poor Communities through Decentralized Water Treatment KiosksInnovation Policy Platform, June 2017. Many developing countries lack the piped infrastructure to provide access to clean water directly to households. This project report describes how decentralized models of water treatment and distribution offer an innovative solution to this challenge.

Can ‘Functionality’ Save the Community Management Model of Rural Water Supply?Water Resources and Rural Development, June 2017. This paper reviews the literature from both practice-focused and critical academic perspectives and identifies areas that challenge the understanding of water point functionality as it relates to community-based management.

Water Point Failure in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Value of a Systems Thinking ApproachWaterlines, April 2017. This paper proposes the adoption of systems-based analysis for looking at water point failure and introduces some of the more common analytical tools that could reveal how to more effectively manage these complexities.

Water System Hardware and Management Rehabilitation: Qualitative Evidence from Ghana, Kenya, and ZambiaInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, February 2017. One in three hand pumps in sub-Saharan Africa is nonfunctional at any given time, due in part to hardware and management failures of rural water systems. This paper describes how governments, NGOs, and private sector actors can better leverage available resources to address the problem.

Evaluating Waterpoint Sustainability and Access Implications of Revenue Collection Approaches in Rural KenyaWater Resources Research, January 2017. This study assesses water point sustainability and access outcomes associated with different revenue collection approaches on the south coast of Kenya.

Women’s Crucial Role in Collective Operation and Maintenance of Drinking Water Infrastructure in Rural UgandaSociety & Natural Resources, March 2017. The article outlines the constraints to women’s effective participation in water management and suggests how to enhance their participation in water governance.

Women and Rural Water Management: Token Representatives or Paving the Way to Power? Water Alternatives, January 2017. This paper discusses how women can play more active roles in formally created decision making spaces for managing domestic water at the village level in Tanzania.

Reducing the Burden of Rural Water Supply through Greywater Reuse: A Case Study from Northern MalawiWater Science & Technology: Water Supply, January 2017. This study examined the potential of grey water reuse for nonpotable applications that conserve fresh water in water-stressed areas like sub-Saharan Africa.

Sustainability of Demand Responsive Approaches to Rural Water Supply: The Case of KeralaThe World Bank, April 2017. This impact evaluation assesses the performance and sustainability of the demand-responsive, community-based approach toward rural water supply in the state of Kerala, India. The findings suggest that the community-based approach can be a superior alternative to the traditional supply-driven model.

A General Micro-Level Modeling Approach to Analyzing Interconnected SDGsSustainability, February 2017. A micro-level modeling approach can quantitatively assess the impacts of rural water interventions that are tailored to specific communities. This paper’s analysis focuses on how a multiple-use water services approach to SDG 6 could reinforce a wide range of other SDGs and targets.

Beyond ‘Functionality’ of Handpump-Supplied Rural Water Services in Developing CountriesWaterlines, February 2016. Exploring the limits of simple water point functionality monitoring, this article explains how a broader collection of quantitative data can enable a better understanding of service performance.

Groundwater and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Short Investigation Highlighting Outstanding Knowledge GapsUnlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor, June 2017. This study examines the relationship between groundwater access and poverty.

Rural Water Supply and Sustainable Rural Groundwater Development: Recent Academic PapersRWSN, June 2017. This blog post links to 14 recently published studies on rural water supply.

Community Management of Rural Water Supply: Case Studies of Success from IndiaRoutledge, 2017. Using case studies of 20 successful community-managed water supplies in rural India, this book outlines future rural water supply approaches for all lower-income countries as they start to follow India’s path to economic growth.

Sustainability in Practice: Experiences from Rural Water and Sanitation Services in West AfricaSustainability, March 2017. This paper describes the framework for sustainability programming developed by UNICEF, which is based on a collaborative and iterative learning and adaptive approach. Results show the usefulness of the framework in identifying sustainability challenges and acting upon them.


Rural Water Supply Network  – RWSN is a global network of professionals and practitioners working to raise standards of knowledge and evidence, technical and professional competence, practice and policy in rural water supply.

Community Water Plus in India – This IRC project investigates successful community-managed rural water supply programs and approaches across India.

WHO International Small Community Water Supply Network – This network was established to promote the achievement of substantive and sustainable improvements to the safety of small community water supplies around the world, particularly in rural areas.


Water Currents - In the News

Counting How Many People Have Water, Sanitation and HygieneWASHwatch, July 13, 2017. The author examines new data from UNICEF/WHO used to estimate the percentage of the global population with at least a basic level of service for drinking water and sanitation.

Rural Water Access: Why Should Countries Follow Paraguay’s Lead? The Guardian, May 26, 2017. With more than 94 percent of the rural population accessing safe water, nations across Latin America and beyond can learn from Paraguay’s phenomenal success.

A Better Way to Provide Drinking Water in Rural AfricaThe Economist, March 2017. This article discusses how startups could transform rural water provision in Africa, just as they are doing with solar-powered electricity.

What Caste Has to Do with the Endurance of Open Defecation in Rural IndiaHuffPost India, July 14, 2017. The authors state that to understand why rural Indians reject pit latrines there is a need to understand rural India's history of untouchability, and particularly the practice of manual scavenging.

We Make Fake Poo in a Laboratory to Improve Sanitation in BangladeshPhys.org, July 12, 2017. Research was conducted in Bangladesh to find a sludge treatment technology that was effective, practical, and affordable. After considering several options, a decision was made to go with unplanted drying beds.

If you would like to feature your organization's materials or suggest other content for upcoming issues of Water Currents, please send them to Dan Campbell, Knowledge Creation/WASH Specialist, at dcampbell@waterckm.com.