by Appropriate Technology Centre / Netwas Uganda, Water for People

Uganda handpump meter

A meter is installed on the U2 hand pump. The U2 model is identical to the India Mark II pump with some components manufactured in Uganda. It is manually operated and can lift water from up to 50m. It is also the most widely used water lifting technology in Uganda.

It uses a piston housed within a cylinder to displace a column of water upwards to the surface through a riser pipe.

The addition of the water meter to the U2 hand pump was an innovation by Water for People and the Appropriate Technology Centre for Water & Sanitation (ATC). The addition of the water meter makes it more convenient to operate the pump in a business model with easy monitoring by a private operator.


The metered hand pump introduces a different way of managing operation and maintenance of hand pumps. Essentially it goes away from the model of collecting fees through water user committees, increases revenues, and introduces a salaried caretaker and an entrepreneur who makes profits from a pool of 10 boreholes.

It raises the hope of communities actually being able to pay for their capital maintenance costs (CapManEx) with 20% of the monthly collections banked on an escrow account held by the Sub County. The pool of 10 boreholes spreads the risk for the entrepreneur and ensures that any broken down system can be fixed within 2 days, increasing reliability for the users, a trade-off users were willing to accept against the alternative of fixed monthly costs with uncertain break-down periods.

Inadvertently it also questions the equitability of households with different user numbers paying the same household fees. More importantly, it takes head-on the issue of cost recovery, which is rarely ever achieved for rural schemes leading to high non-functionality rates. The researchers make the following recommendations for sustainability and scalability of the metered hand pump in Uganda.

  • More engagement should be done at the National level to raise awareness about the metered hand pump as an option for sustainability of hand pumps.
  • As part of mainstreaming access to WASH for vulnerable groups, the proponents of the technology should adopt inclusive designs for the apron to make it accessible to different user groups. Additionally the tariff structure should be examined to cater for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • While in some parts users decry the high tariffs and this is also reflected by low user numbers for some boreholes, sustained sensitization and marketing is necessary to promote the services provided by this model. The coping costs for users when bore holes break down if well documented and presented should enhance willingness to pay.
  • The weak supply chain should be enhanced through making spare parts available closer to the communities, at least at the district level to minimize transport related costs for accessing spare parts. The entrepreneurs may utilize this as a business opportunity, but bulk purchases of spares may also be built into the management of the escrow accounts at the sub-counties.
  • Behaviour change is required at all levels (including users and national level stakeholders) to face up to the reality that lax models of payment have failed to deliver sustainable WASH services. The business model should be considered for some rural areas, particularly were populations are high.