Innovation in Post-Conflict Water Supply Projects in Sierra Leone

Organisation: Institute for Infrastructure & Environment, University of Edinburgh

Partners: Concern Worldwide

Location: Sierra Leone

Type of grant: Core – recognition

Status: Completed


This project will develop an innovative methodology for analysing the impact of post-conflict water supply systems installed in Tonkolili district in Sierra Leone.

Challenge(s) addressed:

  • Water supply projects installed in the immediate aftermath of disasters are highly susceptible to both failure and slippage (reversion back to previous practices).
  • Methodologies for understanding and analysing the impact of these water supply interventions, which considers both the technical (hardware) and non-technical (software) issues are limited and insufficiently indicate the cause of the problems.

Innovation Factor: Development of a methodology which allows for the post-conflict systems to be fully analysed by combining traditional surveying methods, such as Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) surveys, with quantitative technical tools, such as Case Based Reasoning (CBR).

Added Value:

The University of Edinburgh and Concern Worldwide will work together to develop a methodology for analysing existing water supply systems. This will be used to highlight important innovations and alterations that could be made to traditional engineering practice in post-disaster interventions. The resulting research findings will be widely shared with the international humanitarian community. The methodology will be particularly beneficial for analysing any technical intervention, such as sanitation, shelter or energy technologies, carried out in post-disaster situations.

Innovation Phases Description:

  • Recognition: Develop an understanding of prior water supply projects by identifying, documenting and critically evaluating existing practices. Explore the need for a more holistic analysis of the socio-technical systems in Sierra Leone and the beneficiaries ability to respond to technical interventions.
  • Invention: Creation of a survey mechanism, which will combine both qualitative and quantitative methods, to provide an understanding of the impact that technological interventions have in this context.

Key Deliverables / Impact:

  • Overview of current research and literature on failure of water supply projects in developing countries, particularly as is relevant to post-disaster interventions.
  • A developed methodology for analysing, in an effective and accurate manner, the impact that previous water supply projects have had, their potential for failure, and the reasons behind the systems that have failed.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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