In sub-Saharan Africa, moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals will require an approach to water and sanitation service delivery for many rural communities where handpumps still dominate infrastructure. This paper reviews a case study of allowing users (local government and communities) in Rumphi District, Malawi, to choose a handpump model based on information about the life-cycle costs. The results indicate that there is some awareness within communities and within the local government of several handpump options for the rural water supply in the study area. Given a choice of different handpump models in the treatment communities, each community chose the rope pump. Allowing communities to choose the type of handpump model, with input from both local government and donors on low cost borehole drilling, should be considered as an innovative approach to rural water service delivery.