The One Million Initiative: Achieving sustainability of water supply infrastructure in Mozambique

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GURO, Mozambique, 21 April 2011 – Guro district, in the central province of Manica, has become a model for sustainable water supply infrastructure in Mozambique. Communities in the district have developed and implemented a sustainable water supply infrastructure with support from the district and and provincial governments, the National Water Directorate (DNA) and UNICEF. The model was developed through the One Million initiative, a seven-year program started in 2006 by the Government of Mozambique, the Government of the Netherlands and UNICEF. The aim of the program is to reach at least one million users with safe water in 18 target districts, including Guro, by 2013.

One of the main challenges facing rural water supply interventions in developing countries is sustainability. Hand pumps are often of poor quality, few new ones are installed or built and maintenance can be inadequate. The communities often lack a sense of ownership over their water points and water sources.

Guro district, with support from the Government and UNICEF, implemented a sustainable model which aimed at engaging the communities. The model included setting up a spare part supply chain at the district level by identifying artisans and spare parts dealers; promoting agreements between local artisan associations and communities, with price lists for repairs; establishing regular visits to existing water points every three months to conduct routine preventive maintenance checks; setting up of a database of water points with information on hand pump breakdowns; and ensuring regular monitoring at the province and district level.

In 2007, Guro had 97 water points, 30 of which were not working. As part of the One Million initiative, existing water points were rehabilitated and an additional 25 new water points were constructed. By 2009, all the water points were functioning, having increased from 67 in 2007 to 122 in 2009. Consequently, the percentage of non-functioning water points fell from 30 to zero. A survey carried out by the district authorities in 2009 found that all the water points were operational and that local water committees were actively contributing to their operation, maintenance and repairs, with funds available for spare parts.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: