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Frequent breakdowns of boreholes perpetuate disempowerment of women and girls.

Poor functionality of water sources is common in most rural communities and is a major barrier to safe water access, health and productivity. Women are obliged to walk long distances or to use unsafe sources because their local source is not functioning for days, months or even years.

Low functionality is a result of technical and institutional challenges. The national policy of Community Based Maintenance (CBM) is not implemented in an effective way. For example, CBM currently requires Water and Sanitation Committees to take on tasks and responsibilities beyond village resources such as supervising spare parts quality and managing funds.

Under current CBM, local government usually agrees to pay for major faults while communities pay for minor faults, with the result that communities leave minor faults unattended until they become major faults. In addition, politicians and international sponsors frequently pay for repairs and new equipment. Both these factors lead to a “wait till it breaks” culture, which combined with insufficient government budget for major repairs causes sources to be abandoned or be non-functional for extended periods. The shortage of village-friendly banks generally causes community members to resist paying maintenance tariffs since they distrust the accountability of their water committee. The financial incentives that govern the behaviour of local technicians is also a problem – they are paid for repairs, so breakdowns help them more than reliable functionality.

Consequently, water sources are unreliable in most rural communities, and health, gender balance and productivity levels remain low.