This programme report has been developed to describe the Community-based Operations and Maintenance of Hand Pumps scheme that was supported by SWASTH. It draws from internal documents and conversations with stakeholders. Information from the ground was gathered through a field trip to Dobhi block of Gaya district in Bihar. This included some personal interviews and group discussions with external stakeholders. This block was selected as the initiative was piloted here and was reported to have brought about some changes here since its implementation.
The community-based operation and maintenance of hand pumps in Bihar, India is an initiative aimed at enhancing the provision of safe drinking water to rural communities in the Gaya district through community-managed hand pumps. It is a collaborative initiative of four entities -- Bihar Technical Assistance Support Team (BTAST), Public Health Engineering
Department (PHED), Action for Community Empowerment (ACE), and JEEViKA.
This initiative seeks to enhance the access of rural communities to safe drinking water by maintaining well-functioning hand pumps through an efficient repair mechanism. Local community members, notably Self Help Group (SHG) women, are recruited and trained as hand pump mechanics, thereby creating a cadre of capable technicians amongst the user community. Measures have been taken to expedite service delivery, while ensuring quality control through the establishment of a Rural Sanitary Mart-cum-Call Centre that registers complaints and sells all necessary spare parts.
Apart from improving the community’s access to safe drinking water via functional hand pumps, this initiative has enhanced women’s economic status and participation in the community. A few challenges persist such as the method of payment for the repair of public hand pumps, but the resolution of these matters is being negotiated and it in no way diminishes the positive impact of the initiative.