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Coverage as a misleading development goal: the concept of water-person-years

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conference contribution
posted on 12.02.2018, 15:07 authored by Andreas G. Koestler, Marius A. Koestler, Lucrezia Koestler
Large sums of money have been poured into developing countries by donors, aid agencies and NGOs to improve people’s access to water. However, many of the constructed water sources have broken down or are dysfunctional. At the same time, donors, governments and NGOs rush to achieve coverage targets, ambitiously set and inaccurately measured. This paper proposes a new way of measuring the impact of investments. Assessing investments in “waterpersonyears” over a defined period of time, allows for a more efficient allocation of resources, and calls for a rethinking of the current development approach. Measuring in waterpersonyears is necessary in order to shift focus from new infrastructure development to operation and maintenance of existing water systems, something that is crucial for sustainability.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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WEDC Conference


KOESTLER, A.G. ... et al, 2009. Coverage as a misleading development goal: the concept of water-person-years. IN: Shaw, R.J. (ed). Water, sanitation and hygiene - Sustainable development and multisectoral approaches: Proceedings of the 34th WEDC International Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 18-22 May 2009, 4p.p.


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