The Global Water Initiative (GWI) was an action-research and advocacy programme that ran from 2008-17. The project is now closed. This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close. After that date, information about the project and core GWI technical publications will continue to be available from the IIED website and Publications Library.

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Enabling well-informed communities to choose their water supply technology

GWI’s rural water supply programme sought to improve access and water quality, not just for now but forever. Over the four years that we worked with communities across West Africa, we found user participation to be crucial in enabling communities to make the well-informed technical choices that will ensure sustainable access to clean water.

As well as ensuring quality in construction, communities and technical service providers must first understand the technology choices (e.g. open wells, hand pumps, solar systems, water towers, etc), their life-cycle costs, the maintenance skills necessary and the external support required, in order to guarantee long-term sustainability of water structures. GWI developed practical guidance and tools related to technical choice, design, construction and M&E, to ensure that appropriate solutions are selected and then implemented with the involvement of both the end users and the relevant decentralised authorities.

GWI led an extensive programme of technical capacity-building and awareness-raising, to help all stakeholders fully understand the importance of hardware quality for sustainability. The resources listed below were produced and distributed widely as part of this programme to enable communities and local authorities to make well-informed technical choices.



In our quest to improve access to clean water, we engaged communities in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal, to help them discuss which technologies would work best for them.