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Service Failures of Rural Water Supply Systems in Ethiopia and Their Policy Implications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-196
JournalPublic Works Management & Policy
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


As the world is striving to improve water supply coverage, a significant number of rural communities are forced to turn back to unprotected sources due to service breakdowns of their water supply systems. Yet, these communities do not seem to receive the same attention as those building new systems. The purpose of this article is to reveal and diagnose the determinant factors of service failures and to propose mitigation measures to the rural water supply in Ethiopia. The study is conducted through a literature review and field discussions with experts (n = 48) and artisans (n = 35), who have been involved in the implementation, operation, and maintenance of the systems. Moreover, failed schemes (n = 20) were visited, and discussions were held with village elders of each water point. The findings indicate that lack of uniformity of implementation approaches, and institutional and organizational incapability of the local government aggravate the service failures. The further capacity building, institutionalization, and improving remuneration of employees are likely to reduce the problems substantially.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland