Rural water supply, especially through the provision of village hand pumps, is implicated in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015 to enhance the resilience of disaster-affected communities. Lessons from past programmes could help the design and implementation of future rural water supply and sanitation interventions as both a means and an end for sustainable and resilient communities, especially in disaster-prone areas. A study was carried out in the disaster-prone Binga District of Zimbabwe to ascertain whether rural water supply has helped in enhancing community resilience. The findings support the argument that, in addition to ‘hard’ technical inputs and ‘soft’ local human resource inputs, rural water supply is only effective if introduced with the ‘right’ reasons identified and made to operate sustainably, rather than for cost-cutting reasons. The latter is likely to reduce rather than enhance and sustain disaster resilience built by communities over centuries.

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