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 This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close.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.

  • English
  • Français

Uniting stakeholders to deliver hardware quality for sustainability

In West Africa new water points may be delivered with central government or donor funding, however their maintenance is in local hands. GWI focussed on two areas: firstly ensuring new infrastructure is built to a high initial standard, and secondly designing stakeholder driven maintenance processes. Users should pay for their water, either entirely or partially, and must also know the correct amount to contribute in order to ensure sustainable services (e.g. covering the cost of maintenance, replacement parts etc). But equally there is no point having a good management plan and a well-built water structure if nobody can actually afford the water or if vulnerable community members are unable to pay.

One of the most significant issues we encountered was a lack of understanding of sustainable financing for local water services. To tackle this issue we developed a participatory tool for village-level water pricing, to help ensure that infrastructure maintenance and repair costs are understood and budgeted for in the long-term. How much people must contribute varies with type of pump, and number of users; payment systems may include payment at the pump (per volume), monthly or annual subscription or community contributions. Villagers need to discuss and agree their preferred option. Likewise, we developed a simple technical tool for engaging stakeholders, to ensure user participation at all stages of planning and implementation.

We also partnered with WEDC (Water, Engineering & Development Centre) to deliver training to community and local government representatives on water supply sustainability within the context of decentralisation.

The documents listed below showcase how GWI united stakeholders to deliver hardware quality for sustainability.



This concise and accessible GWI guide clearly outlines the steps required before, during and after the construction of water points, which must all be completed before the management of the water points is transferred to the community.

In order for a community to monitor the construction of a water supply, they must first understand the necessary principles of engineering.

Quality assurance is a vital part of the construction of water infrastructure. This practical document outlines GWI’s approach to building long-lasting water supplies in West Africa.

GWI recommends regular monitoring of water points and latrines to ensure that all parts are maintained properly and that any potential problems are identified early on.

Communities have a right to be informed about decisions affecting their water supply.

Water users require a mechanism for holding contractors to account in the construction of water points.

This GWI document sets out the overarching principles which could make sustainable water resource management in the Malian Sourou basin an achievable reality.