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What is the difference between rehabilitation and repair or service maintenance of hand pumps?

Safe Water Strategy
  1. What is the WASH sector common understanding of a hand or foot-pump well “rehabilitation” vs a well “repair” or “service maintenance”. To me, a rehab seems to imply the restoration to functionality of a well that has stopped working, perhaps for a long time. But I’m looking at a situation where simply restoring a still-functioning pump (Vergnet or India Mark IV) to “optimal” water flow is labelled a “rehab”. How common/uncommon or rigorous/loose of a definition for “rehab” would this be in the WASH world?

    1. I’m trying to understand, when it comes to repairing existing wells in Africa vs drilling new ones, what types of things are considered rehabilitations vs. routine maintenance. What would be considered pump rehabilitations (worth billing foreign donors $1,500 USD for) or routine maintenance (coverable by $8 USD monthly contributions by the African village)?

2 Answers

Safe Water Strategy

In the terminology of IRC's WASHCost project - - rehabilitation is linked to Capital maintenance expenditure (CapManEx), which is defined as:

Meets the costs of renewing (replacing, rehabilitating, refurbishing, restoring) assets to ensure that services continue at the same level of performance that was first delivered. Examples include replacing a motor on a power pump or the pump rods/rising main/handle in a handpump; cleaning/re-excavating the base of a hand-dug well; relaying the drainage field for a septic tank; flushing a borehole which no longer delivers the desired flow; cleaning a water tank, etc. The renewal of these assets, often after some years of operation, ensures the same level of service that users received when the asset was first installed. Planning for CapManEx is crucial to the sustainability of WASH services. (IRC Glossary,

Timely replacement of pumps can save a lot of money. The WASHCost life-cycle costs brochure - - notes that "it is clearly more cost effective to replace a US$ 500 handpump every five to ten years, than to wait for it to fail and then develop a new US$ 10,000 borehole. Yet around the world, failed handpumps are systematically replaced by entirely new boreholes".

Based on research in 4 countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, India), WASHCost found that Capital maintenance expenditure (CapManEx) for boreholes with handpumps ranged from US$ 1.50 - 2.00 per person per year (WASHCost infosheet 1 -

Repair or service maintenance are linked to Operating and minor maintenance expenditure (OpEx), which WASHCost defines as:

Recurrent, regular and ongoing expenditure on labour, fuel, chemicals, materials, or purchases of bulk water. Minor maintenance is routine maintenance needed to keep systems running at design performance, but does not include major repairs or renewals. Sometimes the distinction between OpEx and Capital Maintenance Expenditure (CapManEx) is less than clear. OpEx also includes ‘household coping costs’ by which households spend money to achieve a satisfactory level of service; i.e. cleaning products for sanitary facilities, energy costs, etc. (IRC Glossary,

WASHCost found that Operating and minor maintenance expenditure (OpEx) for boreholes with handpumps ranged from US$ 0.50 - 1.00 per person per year (WASHCost infosheet 1 -

Answer adapted on 18 January 2012 from a reply originally posted by Dick de Jong (IRC, retired) on 29 April 2011


depending on operation maintenance cost, Repair techniques are used to restore the structural integrity and shape of functional state. For example, a Afridev hand water pump can be repaired so that it does not have any damaged mechanism or unsafe operational use. Repair techniques generally include removal of damaged parts and placement of new parts in its place. eg. foot valve seal.. Repair methods, however, do little to address the cause of assistance faults. Therefore, simple repairs typically fail prematurely since nothing is done to mitigate or stop the primary deterioration mechanism. Rehabilitation methods, in addition to restoring structural integrity and shape, mitigate or stop the process responsible for the damage. Because rehabilitation includes addressing the cause of the problem itself, is must form part of CapManEx and last significantly longer.