Assessing technologies – the WASHTech project

There is no one size fits all solution to a lack of water and sanitation so it’s essential that we monitor the success of the technologies we use.

WASH Matters

13 Jan 2014
There are lots of technologies that can provide water supply and sanitation services. Though there are many types of pump, latrine and water treatment option, no single technology is appropriate for every environment:
WASHTech - Supporting The Vision Of Sustainable WASH Services

All technologies must be managed

Even the most simple or seemingly ‘appropriate’ technologies must be managed. Despite many claims there is no such thing as a pump, water filter, water transport device or latrine that requires no management or maintenance at all.

If a kind of technology is introduced into an area without considering whether its users actually want it, how it will be maintained, how spare parts for maintenance will be obtained, who will pay for maintenance and who will provide ongoing technical, management and financial support to users, the technology will most likely fail after a short time.

A technology that looks like a good, simple, appropriate idea on paper might be completely inappropriate on the ground. This can be due to a variety of reasons that differ from place to place.

Whilst technologies are crucial part of a service’s success, the way a service is managed often determines whether it will continue to deliver benefits over time. The water and sanitation crisis is not a simple technical problem that can be solved with a single solution. The obstacles that stop a service being managed and paid for must also be addressed.

Understanding obstacles

A tool has been developed to identify the obstacles that stand in the way of a technology delivering lasting services. The WASHTech Technology Applicability Framework (TAF) helps technology users, producers, implementers, local governments, national governments and researchers to understand what social, financial, institutional, legal and skill set issues need to be addressed for a technology to deliver benefits in the long term.

You can download the Technology Applicability Framework from the WASHTech website >

The Technology Applicability Framework has been tested 20 times in five countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Nicaragua). It was developed by a consortium of partners, including IRC, SKAT, WaterAid, TREND, KNUST, WSA and Cranfield University.