Findings of World Vision's Sustainable Water Services Delivery Project

Children collecting contaminated water in Nyanza, Kenya. Photo courtesy Dr. Greg Allgood

Children collecting contaminated water in Nyanza, Kenya.
Photo courtesy Dr. Greg Allgood

Many Women of Vision were encouraged by the news that nearly 80% of wells drilled by World Vision still operational after more than two decades. You have funded many of these wells and accompanying sanitation and hygiene projects.

World Vision is in the middle of a six-year program that will provide clean water to 6 million people and spend $400 million on water projects. We’re now at the pace of providing clean drinking water to one new person every 30 seconds, making us the leading NGO (nongovernmental organization) in providing clean drinking water in the developing world.

Providing clean water to a person every 30 seconds is awesome, but the real testament is in the quality of the work. Many Women of Vision have visited World Vision water programs over the years, and have seen World Vision’s deep community engagement model that transforms communities. This model, built over 60 years, helps people adopt positive behaviors that result in sustained water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions. Water continues to flow after we leave because communities have ownership of the water points and can maintain and repair them.

Today we’re excited to share some of the findings of the recent study on World Vision’s water work.

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are critical to human health and development (WHO/UNICEF 2014). Yet, over 730 million people lack access to safe drinking water from an improved source and an estimated 1,600 children die every day from diseases related to unsafe drinking water and basic sanitation. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of households depend on boreholes with handpumps for drinking water, yet 30-50% of these handpumps may not be functional at any given time. The results of this collaborative assessment showed that approximately 80% of the water points surveyed were functional at the time of the study. Systems with an identifiable management team and charging a fee for water usage were significantly more likely to be functional than those with no identifiable management structure and no fee collection. For water sources installed by World Vision, functionality did not significantly decrease with age.

Study characteristics

• Cross-sectional study of 1470 water sources in 520 communities in the Greater Afram Plains (GAP) region of Ghana
• Study communities were communities in which World Vision had installed at least one water source between 1973 and 2010
• Data were collected by Water and Sanitation for Africa, a Pan-African humanitarian organization, as part of a project funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Following the conclusion of this project, the data were anonymized and analyzed by researchers at the University of North Carolina.

Water source characteristics

• Nearly 80% of 1470 water sources studied in the Greater Afram Plains were functional
• 88% of sources were boreholes with handpumps, while 12% were other source types.
• 898 sources were constructed by World Vision; 672 constructed by other implementers
• The average reported number of users per water source was 115.


• Water source functionality is highly dependent on management team presence and quality
• The collection of a tariff (or user fee) for collecting water in the community increased the odds of a water source in that community being functional.
• The presence of an identifiable water source management ream in the community increased the odds of a water source in that community being functional. Sources were more than twice as likely to be functional if identifiable management was present.
• When only one water source is present in a community, that source is significantly more likely to be functional than if many sources are present. (That is, additional sources are correlated with lower odds of a particular source being functional, but higher odds that at least one source is functional).
• The ability of the management team to rapidly obtain the services of a mechanic strongly predicts water source functionality
• Functionality decreases with age: the odds of a water source being functional decrease by 10% for each additional 5 years of system age.
• Functionality did not significantly decrease with age for the 898 water sources installed by World Vision
• Functionality can be understood as a dynamic equilibrium between breakdowns and repairs.

WHO/UNICEF (2014) Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2014 Update, World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund, Geneva, Switzerland and New York, NY, USA.

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