Environmental Science & Technology
Research has shown that sustainability of rural water infrastructure in developing countries is largely affected by the dynamic and systemic interactions of technical, social, financial, institutional, and environmental factors that can lead to premature water system failure. This research employs systems dynamic modeling, which uses feedback mechanisms to understand how these factors interact dynamically to influence long-term rural water system functionality. To do this, the research first identified and aggregated key factors from literature, then asked water sector experts to indicate the polarity and strength between factors through Delphi and cross impact survey questionnaires, and finally used system dynamics modeling to identify and prioritize feedback mechanisms. The resulting model identified 101 feedback mechanisms that were dominated primarily by three and four-factor loops that contained some combination of the factors: Water System Functionality, Community, Financial, Government, Management, and Technology. These feedback mechanisms were then scored and prioritized, with the most dominant feedback mechanism identified as Water System Functionality – Community – Finance – Management. This research offers insight into the dynamic interaction of factors impacting sustainability of rural water infrastructure through the identification of these feedback mechanisms and makes a compelling case for future research to longitudinally investigate the interaction of these factors in various contexts.
sustainability factors, developing countries, rural water projects, modeling, systems
Walters, Jeffrey P. and Javernick-Will, Amy N., "Long-Term Functionality of Rural Water Services in Developing Countries: A System Dynamics Approach to Understanding the Dynamic Interaction of Causal Factors" (2015). Faculty Publications - Biomedical, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering. 73.