District hand pump mechanics associations in Uganda for improved operation and maintenance of rural water-supply systems
In Uganda, functionality is still a challenge, with 19 per cent of water points not working. Though trained by local government and NGOs, hand pump mechanics (HPMs) are not recognized as local private sector players and are mostly segregated individuals, yet they are a key stakeholder in operation and maintenance (O&M) of rural water supply. HPMs find it hard to access spare parts and cannot benefit from economies of scale; nor are they involved in decision making in water source development and rehabilitation and cannot receive any formal government contracts for rehabilitation. This situation has resulted in a lack of adequate information around operation and maintenance such as costs, functionality, and consumer feedback loops. At community level, there are reported cases of difficulties to access reliable repairs with uniform prices. This evidence-based paper explores how mechanics have contributed to sustaining the flow of water through district-based HPMs associations in five districts in Uganda.