"Charity" is about doing "Something Good"
Sustainable Development is to make things "Better!"
In Africa, the majority of "Charity" water pumps are now broken.
However, most of the wells are still usable.
FairWater promotes replacement of these broken pumps
with the professional & durable Dutch BluePump
already over 600 installed ...
creating sustainable BlueZones all over Africa
Click to see how the FairWater BluePump is made and how we make BlueZones
Many NGOs ask for funding all the time, because: "Millions of people have no access to safe water".
But what is really going on?
Fact is, that in African counties up to 80% of the donated pumps are non-functional. It is estimated that at least 175.000 handpumps are now rusting away in the African bush. No wonder that NGOs still ask more funding, but is there any hope for the better?
A recent report of the international Rural Water Supply Networc (RWSN, 2010) states:
"Not only has progress been slow, but, more shamefully, many of the constructed services have not continued to work over time. Thousands of people, who once benefited from a safe drinking water supply, now walk past broken handpumps or taps and on to their traditional, dirty water point."
"Despite the best intentions, the fact is that we, sector professionals and practitioners, have contributed towards the problem in numerous ways."
This is a clear and alarming message. However, even more alarming, the next phrase in the RWSN report points out that:
"Many of us are well aware of these problems. Nevertheless, most of us carry on as before.
A rehabilitation programme tends to use the same management and maintenance principles and training (if any) even where these previously led to long term breakdown."
What can we learn from this, what happened, how can we do better?
1. The "standard" pump in use by water projects is definitely not strong enough;
2. Communities are on their own, there is no organized sustainable technical back-up;
3. With time the repairs become more frequent and more expensive;
4. In the end, the people cannot afford more repairs and abandon the pump completely.
Conclusion 1: It is clear that in order to have a sustainable water supply:
(1) handpumps should be very reliable in the first place and
(2) there must be a professional local and sustainable back-up system for spares & repairs.
Conclusion 2: It also evident that the "charity approach" of most NGOs and individuals is nice, but not succesfull. It is great that people want to help, but the poor results of the harity oriented water projects (as indicated in the RWSN report) clearly shows that this is unfortunatly not leading to a sustainable water supply. Even worse, it could have a negatif impact in the end.
As the RWSN study indicates, most water projects basically follow the VLOM concept, which means that the community ireceives a pump and is responsible for it's maintenance and functioning. Also, at that time, there were no simple and reliable handpumps on the market. The main type of pumps available were made in India. These "public domain" pumps are rather cheap, but not particularly well know for their reliablility. They also needed a lot of spare parts to function, which were often not locally available, because there is no sustainable system of handpump dealers.
Final Conclusion 3: If we really want to help the rural communities is Africa with a reliable water supply at low cost, we have to quickly move away from the "Charity approach" and start with a more professional concept that gives a better guarantee for safe and sustainable water. In other words, what Africa needs is a simple maintenance concept with a better quality handpump, stronger, reliable and maintainable at hardly any cost at all.
Therefore, against all odds, with this vision in mind, we started the ambitious BluePump project already in 2004. This was set up as a co-creation project between Dutch and African companies and NGOs, to work together with the aim to design the most suitable handpump for Africa: The result of this project is the rock solid BluePump.
This hand operated water pump is extremely strong simple and designed to last. It is practically indestructible and can also easily pump water from very deep wells, up to 100m. deep (with a counterweight on the handle). But as concluded above, also a sustainable regional support system is needed for local back-up, for installation of new pumps and spares.
The next step therefore was to introduce the concept of the "BlueZone" concept, with the "ABC management" support system for maintenance and spare parts by a Regional Service Provider. The strong selling point of the reliable BluePump is that communities can also always rely on the back-up of professional local dealers who have continuous support of the international distributor, the Dutch company BOODE BV
ABC stands for: "Annual BluePump Check-up". In between these annual check-ups, the reliable BluePump is just doing what it is supposed to do: it's pumping clean water, every day, day in and day out. The main purpose of the yearly ABC check-up is therefore monitoring. In case something needs to be adjusted, it can be done at the same time. The community only contributes a small fixed amount for the ABC, generally between 50 to 100 US$, so about 1 to 2 US$ per family per year, independent of the work that needs to be done.
Charity versus Development
In a Charity approach, the donors deal directly with the communities, which is typical for NGOs. In a Development approach, donors deal with a professional company that installs and supports handpumps in their region. Their contact with the community is limited to what they know best, whcih is about the social aspects like education and training, etc. not the hardware aspects. Public water supply can be compared with public transport. You don't give a bus to a community to go from one place to another. The management of the hardware of an important social task must be coordinated in a porfessional regional setting for operation and maintenance under supervision of the government. The BlueZone ABC approach is exactly doing that.
To start development, it is therefore important to first start with a making a BlueZone. Once the BlueZone service system is there, water projects and NGOs can use this to help more communities with a BluePump. Communities quickly appreciate the BluePump. Other nearby communities that still suffer with the high cost of continuous repairs, see how easy the BluePump works day in and day out and also ask for BluePumps. So the BlueZone grows by itself, which is good for the business of the service provider (local jobs!) and also for the communities itself. Every new BluePumps also makes the BlueZone stronger and keeps the maintenance costs of the individual pumps low.
FairWater is therefore not a traditional "charity" organization. We first select a reliable company in a country to become a local BlueZone support unit and agent for the BluePump. If that is in place, we start with the first BlueZone and our donors (as well as other NGOs) can donate to replace broken pumps by a BluePump in the BlueZone. The installation is done by the local agent with a guarantee for maintenance. Sponsors of FairWater will see their donated BluePump on our website for 100% transparency what happens with the funding.
Click here to go to the FairWater projects website and see our projects
The typical story of a "Charity" handpump
"Our village had no water in the dry season, so often we had to walk for many hours every day. One day, a group of people passed by, they said they were from an organization that wanted to help us. They came again and made a well with a handpump. They called it a "VLOM" pump and explained how we should repair it. They gave us some spare parts and made a picture from the pump and the happy people around it and that was the last we have ever seen of them.
In the beginning everything was fine, the water was close-by and clean. We had all the water we needed for our families and to grow some vegetables. But within a few months, in the morning, there was no water in the pump and we had to pump for half an hour to get some water again.
We could repair the pump, but soon the water disappeared again. The repair was not done properly, so we asked somebody with more experience and payd him for the repair. But soon the same happened again and again ... and again ... In the end, we ran out of money and hope. We do not use the pump anymore and don't know anymore where to go.
Click here for video: "Pluff-Pump problems and what is FairWater doing about it?"
What about the pumps that are still working?
Good question, there must be something good there, not all projects go wrong, however:
(1) Statistics show that most of the pumps still working
are recently installed.
(2) Those pumps that are older than 3 years are:
(a) used less intense, so problems come later, or
(b) maintained at a very high cost.
The high maintenance cost of the VLOM pumps creates serious problems. Obviously, when the community needs water, they have no other option but to pay for expensive maintenance. Repeated repairs for 200 up to 500 US$ are no exception. We think that this not fair, especially when better pumps like the BluePump are now available. NGOs should therefore stop using these cheap and fragile "Pluff-Pumps and start making BlueZones by replacing problematic pumps with BluePumps.
FairWater BluePumps make people happy again.
Our local partners replace broken down handpumps by the BluePump with the innovative BlueZone maintenance concept help the people for all years to come.
Calculated per liter of water, BluePumps are at least 10 times cheaper to operate compared to any other handpump.
Click on the picture and see for yourself, also on our website WatSan.org how we use the funding and how we guarantee that your funding is used sustainably.
Click here or on the picture to see what we do.
Already over 500 BluePumps are working every day in 10 African countries and provide safe water for more than 150.000 people at a fair and affordable price. FairWater BlueZones are therefore a realistic solution to fight poverty in a simple and effective way, with safe and secure water for communities, families and schools in Africa.
In our rehabilitation programs, we replace a broken handpump for only € 2.500, - A good example how we work can be seen in The Gambia, where there is already a BlueZone with over 100 BluePumps. Currently, all communities in Gambia now want a BluePump and to be connected for maintenance to Swe-Gam Ltd. a professional Water Service Provider (WSP), that also maintains many solar water systems in The Gambia. Economics of scale support that the maintenance of handpumps should be incorporated in the regular maintenance of small grid systems in the larger towns.
Wherever possible, we also include also a "school-garden" program to our school pumps.
In addition, we seriously call on other school projects to also use the durable BluePump and link it to a BlueZone for sustainable long-term operation, kids deserve that!
FairWater has a special focus on Water 4 Schools; Foster a BluePump
Because kids are the future and schools pumps in Africa have even more problems in maintenance, FairWater started a special program to rehabilitate broken down water pumps at schools and to link them up with the maintenance system of our BlueZones in Africa. The need is high; it is estimated that over 75% of all school pumps are already non-functional. Schools in the Western World can now connect with a specific school in Africa and foster a BluePump for them for a period of 3 to 6 years. For more info, go to www.water4schools.org
Our sponsors are companies, persons and schools that:
- care about the environment and a sustainable future;
- want to help the people in Africa
- are aware of the importance of safe water;
- know that only durable solutions make sense;
- don't mind to initially pay a bit more for a durable solution;
- want to know what happens with their funding;
- want to see results that last;
- want to promote local business
Now you have read this "home" page and maybe you think: "Hey, that's a long story, but the message just rocked my world. We thought we were doing fine with our donation and projects, now it seems that this is all going nowhere"
Does this mean that we all have to buy BluePumps now for our projects? Can we afford that or do we have other options?"
If you want to talk about this, or have a story to share, or want some feed-back how you can actually do better to help the people in Africa with real sustainable water solutions, contact us.
We have over 20 years of experience in rural water supply all over Africa resulting in a very good network and contacts and can probably answer some of your questions how to do things better in your specific region.
Just pick up the phone and give us a call, we will be glad to assist you.
Phone: + 31 (0)20 260 1171 or call /SMS our mobile nr. +31 6 236 686 15
or send and email to: