Comparative potable water system design in rural Sierra Leone: using Root Cause Analysis vs. Conventional Analysis to define the problem
Michalak, Christopher Thomas William
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Dr. Richard J Schuhmann, Thesis Supervisor Eric Todd Donnell, Honors Advisor
Root Cause Analysis Conventional Analysis Sierra Leone potable water system design
Although potable water is essential to sustain life, a significant percentage of the world’s population lacks access to this necessity. In the village of Baoma, Sierra Leone, the community currently has no adequate way of obtaining potable water in a sanitary manner. If this problem persists, disease, illness, and death will befall these people. A conventional solution to this problem is to treat the contaminated water using a downstream end-of-pipe engineering design - a reactive measure. However, this solution is often inadequate and unsustainable because of underlying factors that are not understood. If instead, the same problem is analyzed using Root Cause Analysis (RCA), the true source of the problem can be determined and corrected, preventing the problem from occurring again. RCA of the situation often yields an idealistic solution in a world that has many changing variables, and thus may require additional short-term, yet sustainable solutions to the perceived problem.
Analysis shows that a conventional solution to the lack of potable water in Baoma is not a sustainable solution because of continual operational costs and lack of consideration for the technical knowledge of Baoman people. An ideal solution to the root cause, corruption among government officials, is effective for a reduction of underlying factors to the perceived problem. However, this solution requires time and human effort for a long-term result to be observed. The practical solution may be a sustainable solution if supported through development aid funding, as the cost is too expensive for the average Leonean.