In 2016, Africa AHEAD in Zimbabwe completed some formative research initiated by Unicef ESARO (East and Southern African Regional Office) working with Skat Foundation, a leading research organisation based in Switzerland.
This study evaluated the sustainability of Upgraded Family Wells (UFWs) which had been constructed over 20 years ago in Makoni and Buhera District, to see how they had survived. The findings showed that Self Supply using UFWs was a sustainable low cost model and there was evidence that improved most upgraded family wells were still operation and had been maintained. Furthermore it was clear that when Upgraded Family Wells were combined with Community Health Clubs, (as was the case in Makoni District, where some of the first CHCs ever started) this had led to market gardening and other income generating activities. This study has led to the adoption by the WASH Sector to prioritise UFWs to assist with the supply of water to communities where other models have failed. A Self Supply Study conducted by Skat Foundation (Switzerland) and Africa AHEAD in Zimbabwe in 2015 revealed that since initiation of Upgraded Family Wells around 1994, rural communities across most of Zimbabwe have kept digging and upgrading their own water points but the quality of workmanship has unfortunately been deteriorating while technical support from government has all but disappeared.
Despite lack of maintenance by District authority the commitment of rural householders to keep improving their own water sources is more than evident in Zimbabwe which has suffered from almost total break down on government support for water maintenance as there is no water quality monitoring thereby predisposing the community to a high risk of water and sanitation related diseases even when there is a safe water source which is functional.