Evaluating Cellular Instrumentation on Rural Handpumps to Improve Service Delivery—A Longitudinal Study in Rural Rwanda

Published In

Environmental Science & Technology

Document Type


Publication Date



Water resources development -- Environmental aspects -- Africa


In rural sub-Saharan Africa, where handpumps are common, 10–67% are nonfunctional at any one time, and many never get repaired. Increased reliability requires improved monitoring and responsiveness of maintenance providers. In 2014, 181 cellular enabled water pump use sensors were installed in three provinces of Rwanda. In three arms, the nominal maintenance model was compared against a “best practice” circuit rider model, and an “ambulance” service model. In only the ambulance model was the sensor data available to the implementer, and used to dispatch technicians. The study ran for seven months in 2014–2015. In the study period, the nominal maintenance group had a median time to successful repair of approximately 152 days, with a mean per-pump functionality of about 68%. In the circuit rider group, the median time to successful repair was nearly 57 days, with a per-pump functionality mean of nearly 73%. In the ambulance service group, the successful repair interval was nearly 21 days with a functionality mean of nearly 91%. An indicative cost analysis suggests that the cost per functional pump per year is approximately similar between the three models. However, the benefits of reliable water service may justify greater focus on servicing models over installation models.


Copyright (2015) ACS Publications

Locate the Document

PSU affiliates use Find in PSU library link at top.

Unaffiliated researchers can access the work here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b04077



Persistent Identifier