The BlueZone Concept is a modern (business) management model for sustainable water supply for communities in Africa. It has been introduced by FairWater as a response to the disasterous failing NGO/VLOM (Village Level Operated & Maintained) management model that has been heavily promoted in the past by NGOs since 1980.
The first BlueZone experience in Africa started in Gambia with Swe-Gam as the country Water Serive Provider (WSP). The WSP supports the Area Mechanics (AM) in the BlueZone, for installations and repairs, with a tool box and a set of spares. This concept is now being implemented by Fairwater in other countries (Mozambique, Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Burkina).
The BlueZone is based on the understanding that rural water supply is just the end of a supply chain of stakeholders. To make it simple and sustainable, the chain in the BlueZone is short and effective. There is no extra step with spare part supply in local shops, but the WSP supports and maintains direct acontact with the Local Service Provider (LSP) which is often an Area Mechanic (AM) in the region of the BlueZone.
The BlueZone is therefore an area in which the whole project cycle of installation, maintenance and repairs has only one local contact point for the communities that can be called for any issue with the BluePump. This gives the people confidence and trust and increases therefore the sustainability and willingness to pay for assistance. At the same time, it also creates a business opportunity for the Area Mechanic; if he has a fixed number of pumps to take care of, it is also his own interest to keep the BlueZone working.
It also means, that the sustainability comes from the end of the chain, which are the users of the handpump. In other words, in one way or another, families have to pay a bit for the maintenance of the pump. Only when money flows up, the chain is sustainable and service and hardware moves down. It should not be the other way round.
Because people in rural areas are generally considered as "poor", or better, "have a limited cash flow", they can only pay a little to maintain the supply chain. But they have to pay at least a little bit. Therefore the only way to secure that sufficient money flows up in the chain, it is important to have as many people and pumps to contribute. In other words, we need many pumps and scaling up.
Due to economics of scale all BluePumps are operational and maintained at 50 to 100 US$ per year, which is about 2 to 5 US$ per family per year. This is affordable and in rural areas people are willing to pay this amount for a good service.
The ABC Maintenance Contract
The BlueZone approach works better with a reliable handpump. The communties with a reliable BluePump have the choice to be connected to the BlueZone with an "ABC" maintenance contract. This is an Annual BluePump Check-up by a trained BluePump Area Mechanic and serves to avoid repairs and should be done for a fixed price, depending on the number of BluePumps in he Zone and the distance to service all pumps. The more BluePumps, the cheaper the ABC. We aim at a price for the ABC between 50 and 100 US$ per year, which is possible with about 50 BluePumps in a Zone. If the communities decide not to want the ABC, they can call the regional support Area Mechanic for assistance in case of problems with the pump, but will pay more for the trip.
How to start a BlueZone?
This is relatively easy. First, you need to appoint a reliable WSP and preferably a region with Area Mechanics that are already active maintaining other pumps. In doing so, it is important to consider that it is always better to improve upon what is already there, and not to create a new company just to make a BlueZone. The WSP should also not be too small. Best is therefore to find out who is already involved in other technical commercial activities in that area. This can be for instance; Installation & maintenance of solar systems, diesel pumps, irrigation systems, agricultural equipment, repairing cars and trucks, etc. Such a company has access to transport and is able and willing to give a good service at a fair price.
The additional sustainability aspects of the BlueZone is, that every BluePump also creates goodwill for thw WSP and AMs and so their other business will also profit from the fact that they sell, install and maintains BluePumps.
The next step is to provide the first container with a container of 40 BluePumps. Half of that, 20 pumps, can be installed as demo pumps to replace broken down handpumps in the direct area of the WSP. This will show how the BluePumps perform and create trust and demand. Governments and NGOs will see the good results, and in the end decide to also start to using BluePumps to have sustainable results. The WSP will supply pumps and his business model starts. When the first container is sold out, a new one will be send and sold. Within a few years, there will be a steady flow of containers to the WSP. More and more communities are connected to the BlueZone. After a few years, the selling of pumps and the income of the ABC (Annual BluePump Check) will creat enough cashflow to cover the costs of the WSP activities to maintain the service.
The start-up cost involved is a € 100.000,- loan to start-up. Not that much after all, especially not when compared this with the annual budgets and overhead costs of many Charity NGOs. Also, it is a loan, not even a donation. After the first year, it will be a self-propelling activity that starts to generate enough local business for the WSP to be maintained without external funding. In the end, that is all what it is about; people become self reliant and have sustainable water for life.
The business model of the BlueZone is further supported by a steady demand for rehabilitation of old broken down VLOM pumps. It is estimated that in each African country, the yearly demand for new and better handpumps is about 200 to 500 handpumps. The income from the rehabilitation of broken pumps will create already enough revenues for the WSP to have a sustainable business and to maintain the already installed BluePumps in the BlueZone for a very low price.
BluePumps at schools and health centres
Water pumps at schools and health centers were always a special concern. It is estimated that in each African country 10 to 20% of the broken handpumps are with schools and health centers. In most countries over 1.000 handpumps at schools and health centres are broken down.
In the BlueZone, these pumps are linked with the WSP. The WSP will install and maintain BluePumps at schools and health centres at a reduced rate, due to a small cross-subsidy of his other business in the BlueZone. This creates additional goodwill and therefore additional business.
A local caretaker from the community is assigned to each BluePump to supervise daily operation and simple maintenance, like tightening nuts and bolts, cleaning of the platform, opening & closing of the pump, etc. The caretaker is appointed by the community and is registrated with the local government as the official contact person for that water point.
In most cases, the caretaker is paid by the community a small compensation for this, per week, per month or in whatever way that is best suited in the community. In case of a major problem, the caretaker should take action and is responsible to inform the WSP or regional caretaker who will repair the pump for a fixed price between 25 and 50 US$, only depending on the distance. The fixed repair price is important for the community and the caretaker, because they will know how much to collect for the repair. In this case, the O&M is very transparent and sustainable.
The community has no more worries for repairs or to get spare parts. The BluePump basically does not need any spare parts in the first place, and in the rare case some parts are needed, they will be supplied and installed for free by the regional BluePump support.
The BlueZone concept is sustainable by itself, because all stakeholders have an interest in keeping the pump operational. The regional BluePump support or WSP also has a strong interest to keep all BluePumps in a good working order. When all BluePumps are working, it's good reputation will buzz around and the BluePump dealer will sell more BluePumps, expanding the BlueZone even further.
FairWater assists in setting up the Operation & Maintenance (O&M) in these BlueZones and is monitoring from time to time the performance in the field. If needed, FairWater will do follow-up missions for further training and assistance. In case the BlueZone needs specific materials or new parts (updates of older type of BluePumps) FairWater will provide these parts for free, in collaboration with the local FairWater partners.
In the Gambia a good and active example can be seen already of the BlueZone Concept. The country dealer Swe-Gam has BluePumps in stock and installs BluePumps with a year warrantee. Already over 50 BluePumps are operational in this BlueZone. Swe-Gam has already a good reputation all over Gambia as the BluePump supplier and support. As a result, the communities and others also start to know of the other products that Swe-Gam has to offer in the rural areas, such as agricultural equipment. Therefore their activities in installing and maintaining BluePumps have a positive spin-of for the company Swe-Gam as a whole.
The advantages of the BlueZone concept are:
- Operational costs for a BluePumps is very low (generally less than 50 US$ per pump per year);
- Breakdowns are very unlikely, people have water for a life-time;
- In case of unlikely breakdown, repairs with an ABC contract are done with triple F: Fast, Fixed & Fair price;
- Users will always know exactly what they will have to pay for a repair;
- No need of building up a "repair fund" (this created too many stories and problems in the past);
- The caretaker ican have a salary because users like reliability; he is motivated to keep "his" pump in condition;
- Governements have free monitoring through the data of the WSP
BlueZones cannot be introduced in all African countries
We also noticed that it is not possible to start with a BlueZone in all African counries. Sometimes water NGOs still have to go on with outdated VLOM approach for the moment. They have to do so, because they must follow the guidelines of some Governments in Africa. It is said in Africa, that the main reason these Governments prefer the VLOM approach, is because they protect the business of some handpump sellers that do not welcome a free competition of better quality products.
Examples are for instance Ghana, Uganda, Mali and Nigeria.... We regret that, and we hope that the NGOs and major donors will convince these governments that this is not the way foreward. The water problems of communities in these VLOM countries should not be used anymore to justify handpump business deals, they also deserve access to better quality handpumps.
For more information: contact FairWater
In Africa, over 50% of the handpumps are not working, why?
Most NGOs will tell you that there is a huge water problem in Africa. However, this is not correct. In fact, you can find good quality groundwater in most of Africa, it is just 30 to 60m below your feet.
The problem is not water, but to have a low-cost maintenance & reliable device to pump it up.
Why low cost maintenance? Because most of the people that need water are poor.
Why reliable? Because repairs and spares also cost money and when the pump is broken down, you don't have water again.
Therefore, many NGOs provided communities with wells with handpumps. But a handpump will not work for ever, with time some part will wear out and need to be replaced. Therefore, the pumps must be reliable and technical know-how need to be availble for maintenance and repairs when the pump breaks down.
However, the NGOs that donated the pumps did not like the idea that people should pay for the repairs; so they promoted the idea that "water should be free".
To this aim, already over 25 years ago, they developed the VLOM approach. VLOM stands for: Village Level Operated & Maintained. The basic starting point of the VLOM approach is that the users should do the maintenance, so no cost would be involved. This sounds nice, but in practise it became clear that this was easier said than done. Because these VLOM pumps were fragile, repairs usually become expensive after some years and spare parts are often hard to find and had to be paid for anyway.
In the VLOM approach, it was also assumed that the key issue was to make the community feel that it was "their' own handpump. It was argued that as long as the community has a "sense of ownership", they will feel more responsible and therefore will automatically be more motivated to maintain "their" handpump. However, having some "ownership" is nice, but just looking to your "own handpump" did not provide the needed funds for the costly repairs, so also this did not lead to sustainable handpump O&M practice.
Indeed, some "example" show-case communities could do this for a while, especially in shallow boreholes, but the reality all over Africa is different. The result is that, today, in most cases, 1 out of 2 of these VLOM handpumps are now abandoned. Especially handpumps in deep boreholes break down very often and are abandoned (70 to 90%). Statistics are hard to beat, although some NGOs and donors still try to denie this. It is expected that within 10 years most VLOM handpumps in Africa will be broken down and again millions of people have to go back to traditional unsafe water.
Reliability is the key to sustainability
Studies show that the main problem of these VLOM handpumps (often mass produced in India) is due to the fact that they are not designed for heavy duty day-in day-out pumping in African rural communities and need to many spare parts. The obvious advantage for NGOs that donate these India pumps is that they are cheap, the disadvantage is that they break down all the time (sometimes already within a few weeks).
The VLOM pumps need many spares that are typically made for these pumps, but are not available on the local market, or for a very high price, because they become scarce!
The FairWater BluePump alternative
Technology matters and indeed plays an important role. To avoid the irritations of the never ending breakdowns, the BluePump has been designed to be the most reliable handpump on the market. In fact, basically the BluePump does not need spares to function. Maintenance is limited to regular check on nuts and bolts. Besides, the maintenance of the FairWater BluePump is also organized in a modern and private sector approach; reliable water for less than 5 US$ per family per year.
Sustainable water supply for the lowest price
Because of the simplicity and reliability of the BluePump, breakdowns are rare and can easily be resolved without having to use many expensive spares. Therefore the BluePump repairs should in practice normally be done for a low and fixed price. The BluePump A-B-C concept therefore makes the BluePump the cheapest to operate & maintain handpump for community water supply.
A check-up of a BluePump in Mozambique by the local company "BlueZone", the country dealer for the BluePump.
(this is an UNICEF sponsored BluePump, at a depth of 67m. deep, providing water for about 2.000 people on a daily basis)
What is "fostering?"
To foster means to support a good cause for a longer period, in stead of making a "one-time" donation. The advantage of "fostering" is that the implementing organization can count on a longer commitment for support.
We believe that it is very important to show the new generation how water supply can be made sustainable at low cost with the FairWater BluePump. Therefore we prefer wherever possible to start with schools. Most of the schools in rural Africa (over 90%) do not have a functioning water supply. Many donors in the past donated "charity" water pumps to schools, but also most of these school pumps don't work anymore.
For instance when we started our Burkina Faso school program, we asked our local contact partner if he knew any schools in his area that have a broken water pump, he started to laugh and said, "all schools here have no water and broken water pumps". When we asked what was the main reason for that, he replied: "The pumps broke down many times and the parents don't have the money anymore for the repairs, also the Governement is short opf money and cannot do anything". Of course this is a terrible situation. The best solution is therefore to rehab with a reliable BluePump that can be operated at practically no cost.
In the Fairwater Foster School Program, schools in The Netherlands as well as schools in other countries can link with schools in Africa and help them with the basics of every day. first, the water supply will be improving, generally by replacing a broken water pump by a FairWater BluePump in a BlueZone. After that, other follow up activities are possible, such as improving the Sanitation situation and helping with making a school garden.
In the "FairWater Foster School", the donor school starts with makes a commitment to support the African Foster school for an amount of 2.500 Euro to rehabilitate a broken water pump.
Every year, on World Water Day on March 23, the donor school can organize more and new activities for fund raising to sponsor "their" Foster School in Africa.
The obvious advantage of the FairWater Foster School Program is that the donor school will now know for sure how and where their donation will be used. This includes that in the following years, the donor school will receive on the occasion of World water day, an update about the situation of their water point and other activities that they have started for that school.
Once the BluePump is installed by our Water Service Provider (WSP), the pump and the school are linked to the FairWater BlueZone. This means that every year, the WSP makes a check-up visit to the school to monitor the performance of the BluePump. In a similar way, the other activities that the donor school wants to start up with the Foster school are implemented and monitored by the WSP.
What is the difference between FairWater and "traditional" NGOs?
The difference is that FairWater has a 100% focus on sustainability and is also willing to go the "extra mile" to secure this for the community. Traditional water projects are often more short term oriented to quantity rather than to sustainability, and therefore prefer to donate 10 cheap standard water pumps instead of 5 sustainable BluePumps. However, these cheap pumps (often from India) are rather fragile and not suitable for every day heavy use in communities, so they keep breaking down. Most pumps from such traditional water projects are therefore unfortunatly abandoned within a few years. Conclusion: no sustainable development.
FairWater instead, promotes "BlueZones" with local companies for installation & maintenance and we use the durable BluePump. A reliable pump is cost-effective and make people happy, so the people can focus on income generating activities. FairWater projects therefore contribute to more income, while traditional water projects with fragile pumps only frustrate the users. These fragile pumps often use up all income for repairs. No wonder the people in Africa do not want these VLOM pumps anymore and have no other option left than to go back to traditional water sources, often unsafe and far away.
Water is important for all of us. In western countries, good quality water is normally available on tap and we easily use 100 to 200 liters p.p. a day. But in rural Africa this is different. In these small towns and villages, people have no water from a tap. The main source of water is often a handpump in a well. This water is used for drinking, cooking, washing and for home gardens and livestock. Therefore many donor projects constructed wells equipp ed with handpumps and people were happy initially. What they didn't realize was that maintenance of these handpumps would become their next major problem.
Sustainability of the water source is now rapidly becoming the main and major problem in Africa. A recent RWSN report 4, May 2010 indicates that handpumps on average are abandoned within 3 to 5 years. This is the real problem Africa is facing now. It is not about more money for more wells and pumps, it is mainly about changing the old pumps that don't work into sustainable water points. Over 150.000 wells are waiting for a new and better pumps, for BluePumps, the sustainable option.
The average handpump serves 50 families; that is about 300 people and 50 children under 3 years of age. For the parents, a broken handpump often means inconvenience, but for small children it is often the difference between life and death. Especially children under 3 years of age are very vulnerable to unsafe water. When a handpump breaks down, this means serious problems for them.
It is not every day's news, but thousands of young children die of dehydration each year, simply because handpumps break down. Babies with dehydration die without making much noise, they just lay down and are silently gone within a few days.
Dehydration is a ghost killer. Amazingly enough, the relation between children dying from dehydration and broken down handpumps is not very well known to the public and most NGOs. Otherwise, they would focus and change to more reliable handpump immediatly.
In every village in Africa, many families have lost babies due to handpumps that couldn't be repaired anymore... So, no time to waste!
RWSN has also concluded that the focus should be more on sustainability, but that many NGOs continue as before, as if they are unaware of this maintenance problem. A first and important step would be to use more reliable handpumps. This may cost a bit more, but the investment will pay back itself with time. FairWater rings a bell and proposes at the same time a simple and sustainable alternative.
What is so special about the Dutch BluePump?
- very reliable and simple, with a maintenance free pump system
- maintenance cost less than 5 US$ per family per year;
- durable: lasting a lifetime, total replacement never needed
- easy to repair in case of a problem, no complicated parts;
- supported by a professional back-up from local private sector;
- connected to the FairWater international Guarantee Fund;
- able to pump water from up to 100m of depth.
Last but not least ...
If an NGO or a community decides to start using BluePumps, they do not "just buy some hardware and PVC parts" that can pump water. It's much more that that!
When a NGO start using BluePumps in its projects, it is the start of a new phase with lots of benefits for the communities that they want to support. Communities with a BluePump are connected to the international community of FairWater and are now sure of a reliable and sustainable water supply at low cost.
In practice this means, that the families that use BluePumps can always count on the service of network of FairWater Service Providers. Whatever they may need, spares, advice, repairs, more BluePumps, etc. there is a place they can go to.
Obviously, in all countries that have already BluePumps, the people know where to go for BluePump service. BluePumps are not "just another handpump", it is a "BluePump", symbol of the Blue Revolution in Africa, that aims at a Fair & Sustainable water supply for rural families in Africa.
BluePumps are to be trusted to perform day-in & day-out, and have already a very good reputation all over Africa.
Who is using BluePumps already?
Over 500 BluePumps already provide for safe & sustainable water supply to more than 250 communities (over 150.000 people) at a Fair Price!
Organizations that installed or sponsored 10 to 80 BluePumps in Africa in their own projects are Unicef (Mozambique), IRD (Swaziland & Mozambique), UNDP Millennium Village Project (Tanzania), Global Resources Alliances (Tanzania),
Oxfam (in Mozambique and Northern Kenya, see picture), ADRA (Niger); ASAP (Burkina), Sanex Zero% (Gambia), Jointhepipe.org (CAR and Tanzania), Samatarian Purse (Mozambique). Furthermore, there are many smaller NGOs that use only a few BluePumps, but are desperately waiting for more funding to install more; the need and demand is very high...
Where can you order BluePumps?
Best is to start with contacting the internationale distributor of the BluePump in The Netherlands: Boode B.V. and explain in a short email what is your project about and how many BluePumps you need. They can either help you directly, or refer to one of the BluePump dealers nearest to your project location. What they need from you to make you a proposal is:
- Your Name, Address and project location
- The total depth of the well
- The depth of the water in the well
- Is is for a rehabilitation or for a new well
- Can you provide pictures of your project
- Do you want to join the FairWater TrustFund
- How many BluePumps do you need
- Eaxct address where the BluePumps should be delivered
BluePumps can be delivered anywhere in the world on short term notice; normaly 40 to 50 BluePumps fit in a container, depending on the number of PVC pipes needed. Smaller quantities can also be airlifted.
The BluePump design is owned and hosted by the FairWater Foundation who supervises the production and monitoring the performance of all BluePumps in the field. FairWater has an active R&D program to update and improve the design whenever needed. In case of the unlikely event of malfunctions or technical problems, parts are available at no cost through the FairWater Trustfund through the BluePump central distributor BOODE B.V. in the Netherlands.
Specif technical advice
In case you need assistance or technical advice to make a specific order, FairWater can assist you and propose the most cost-effective solution for your project. The BluePump is also available from stock in several African countries by BluePump Dealers in Kenya, Mozambique and Gambia.
The FairWater approach is promoting quality and evidence based results. It is about time for action; no time, no water to waste ...
The typical story of a "Charity" VLOM handpump
"Hello, my name is Ibrahim, i live in Africa, in a rural village. Since I was a child we always had water problems.
In the rainy season, we had water from a small well near the house. We drink that water every day and mom used it for cooking and washing. Sometimes we were sick, and later I understood that this was because of the water. In the dry season, the well was empty, so we, the children, had to walk for many hours every day to fetch water. Sometimes somebody came to the house to sell us water, so we paid. One day, a group of people passed by, they said they were from a Charity Organization, the called it "NGO" or something and wanted to help us.
They came again and made a well in the vilage with a handpump and we were so happy! They called it a "VLOM" pump and explained how we should repair it in case it would break down. My mother was one of the people trained. They also gave us some parts and made a picture from the pump with all of us 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 and could even grow some vegetables. But within a half a year, in the morning, there was no water in the pump and we had to pump for half an hour to get some water again.
My mother helped to repair the pump, she remembered what to do, but soon the water disappeared again. maybe the repair was not done properly, so we asked somebody with more experience, but he asked some money for it.
We struggled to keep the pump working and finally paid a fortune for repairs, some repairs could cost over 300 US$. But in the end, we ran out of money and hope. We do not use the pump anymore and in fact, the situation is still the same as it was 20 years ago.
Now my kids often have to walk for hours to fetch water. I cannot afford all the time to pay the guys that sell water to the houses. I try to make a small business to have some money to pay for school fees and medicine and to charge and pay for some credits for my cell phone."
The above story illustrates how the actual handpump problems in rural Africa started. All over Africa it is the same old story and you find broken handpumps all over! It is indeed a huge problem. It is clear that some drastic changes are needed. In fact, it is rather amazing that the approach of water projects is still the same as if there was no feed back from the field that things were not going well.
It seems therefore, that first of all, it is needed to show the donors the poor results of their well intended efforts so far. Part of FairWater's mission is to explain to NGOs that their good intentiond with the "charity approach" is not really working. We hope that in the end, NGOs and decision makers in water projects will have the courage and motivation to start again with a new and better approach.
Charity versus Development
In a Charity approach, the donors deal directly with the communities, which is typical for NGOs. In a Development approach, donors just deal with a professional company that installs and supports handpumps in their region. Their contact with the community is limited to what the NGO knows best, which is often awareness training on social aspects such as 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.
The FairWater BlueZone Approach guarantees sustainable & affordable water supply and is therefore in most cases the best sustainable approach for rural water projects. BlueZones also create jobs in Africa for the Water Service Provider (WSP). This is one of the major long term benefits of a BlueZone and secures therefor its sustainability.
Warning! NGOs shoud not distroy this sustainable business concept with "good intentions" and start again with providing free service for a while to help the "poor".... that charirty approach did not work in the past and will never work.
The FairWater BlueZone approach is based on the simple concept to first assure that there is a durable maintenance service, before to start with a water project. This is a much more sustainable concept compared with the "traditional" VLOM / NGO approach to donate handpumps to communities without a long term vision for maintenance.
With enough BluePumps in a BlueZone, economics of scale will reduce the cost for the individual communities. This means that also the poor communities will now benefit from a reliable, sustainable and low-cost water supply. A BlueZone works already with 25 BluePumps and can provide for 5 to 10 US$ per family per year a reliable water supply.
The traditional "standard" NGO approach dates from some 25 years ago and has never been changed. It is based on a "community centered approach", i.e. the NGOs go directly to a community or a school and install a well with a standard, cheap (but fragile) handpump.
They expect the people to organize to maintain the pump by themselves. There is no plan for long term follow up, just some training for a few local people how to do repairs. But these people often dissapear after a while. The NGOs also moves out after a while.
Conclussion: at the end of the day, nobody in the region is committed or has an interest to guarantee the sustainability of the water point. The poor & devastating result of this old standard approach is described above and needs no further explanation; it simply doesn't work and is in fact the donor money is not used wisely.
Global Resources Alliances is an USA based NGO that implements integrated Rural Development projects in Western Tanzania. We have installed over 40 BluePumps in Tanzania the past 3 years and are very impressed with the top quality materials and that go into their construction and the simple elegance of their design.
Maintenance is generally limited to the periodic tightening of a few easily accessible bolts, so training someone from the local village where our pumps are installed is easy.
Although the initial cost of the BluePump may be more than other imported models, the reliability, durability and ease of maintenance make them much less expensive in the long run, and keep our clients happy – which is priceless.
President, Global Resource Alliance
Go to almost any rural area in Kenya and chances are you won't have to drive around for long to find a broken handpump. Whatever the make there's always a reason why it wasn't possible to fix - lack of funds, no spares, spares but no tools, technician was trained but left village, "We're waiting for the agency that installed it to come and fix it," etc, etc.
Pumps break, it's normal - isn't it? So doesn't it seem strange that it has not been possible to produce a reliable handpump that doesn't break down in the first place?
In 2006 when a developer from the Netherlands claimed to have produced just that - "a maintenance-free handpump, that could operate for 20+ years" - it was too significant a claim for Oxfam to ignore.
The developer was Paul van Beers, founder of the Fairwater Foundation, and what has followed is a three-year pilot study to trial the "BluePump" in the Turkana District of Northern Kenya.
On inspection the first four pumps procured for the initial pilot looked technically sound - rods, handle, pipes, bearings and headworks were of high precision and good quality. It was therefore a surprise when the first pump broke down within 24 hours of installation.
The first problem related to a leaking foot valve which meant the pump needed to be primed every day. In practice, for an 80 metre deep borehole this meant the first person to reach the pump in the morning had to pump the handle for 10-15 minutes before water discharged from the spout. After a few minutes of no water coming from the pump, the natural reaction for the user was to assume the pump was not working and to give up.
In the three year pilot problems have been experienced with the cylinder, rods, centralisers and handle. Expressed this way it would not appear to be a success but this is actually far from the reality. The underlying success of the project has been the mutually beneficial partnership that has developed between Oxfam and the pump producer through regular e-mail or telephone correspondence on the performance of the pump. This has resulted in a pump that is now probably better than anything else on the market - and communities who are a lot more water secure than they were three years ago.
For the developer he has access to the perfect field environment. Turkana is probably one of the harshest environments on the planet to test a handpump - water is scarce, water points are overcrowded and at times people literally fight over water. Handpumps tend to be isolated with no caretaker so are exposed to rough handling, general abuse and risk of vandalism.
The mechanics of a handpump undergo near continuous heavy use and abuse from the average village. The continuous movement and vibration of handle, rods and piston to lift the water puts enormous stresses on all components of the unit so it is no surprise that pumps break.
If there is something that can go wrong it will, so to have a team of field staff able to report performance issues back to the designers in Europe has been hugely beneficial. Equally having a pump designer with the technical expertise and willingness to invest time and money to resolve the problems has been a big help for Oxfam.
The BluePump is not the perfect handpump and may not be the most appropriate solution everywhere but it is arguably better than anything else currently available on the market. For Oxfam's programme in Turkana it is particularly satisfying to be able to say that in 2011 because of our programme the BluePump is a significantly more reliable, robust pump than it was when it was first launched. Also as part of this process national suppliers have been encouraged to source and supply these pumps and spare parts are now readily available in Kenya.
More importantly, as a direct result of this work communities in Turkana now have improved access to water, are less vulnerable to water shortages during drought and have a greater level of self reliance when it comes to management of their water supplies than they did before.
This was really put to the test last year when Kenya experienced its worst drought in 60 years. Despite very heavy usage the pumps have performed well and have experienced minimal problems. This work is still not complete and regular discussions continue with the developer to explore what additional improvements can be made to strengthen the pump further.
Comments form FairWater, Paul van Beers
Thanks Brian for you good work with the BluePump. Without you and your team, this wouldn't be possible. You are right, the Turkana region is devastating & non forgiving and they say "what doesn't kills you, makes you better" and that sure counts for the BluePump as well. It performed fine up to 40 - 50m. but now we are also more confident up to 100m. It's definitly so much better now!
Thanks to this dreadfull experience, we could improve the design even more and improvements are still going on. Recent improvements will include special centralizers that can be re-used several times again and again, and also allow easier fishing of rods in the unlikely case of rods breaking (but Turkana seems to be Murphy's Kingdom... especially in deep and non vertical, bended boreholes).
Having said this, we all know that technology alone is not enough for sustainability. In the end, everything will fail, even a BluePump. Therefore we have to add that we promote with the durable BluePump the BlueZone Business Approach (BBA). This is based on the assumption that for many years to come, there will be a local demand for better quality handpumps like the BluePump, especially for rehabilitation of broken handpumps.
Many communities would love to have their old handpump replaced by a solid BluePump now. We see that hapening now in all countries (based on a total of about 500 BluePumps in 10 African countries) that have BluePumps. Therefore BluePump dealers will have a steady extra income from a contineous market in rehabilitation of broken down handpumps At the same time, they will have pumps and spares in stock just in case Murphy comes along. We also encourage dealers to assist communities and repair for a small fixed price.
We feel that this BlueZone Business Approach with rehabilitated handpumps is more sustainable, because of the simple fact that all BluePumps will be installed by the dealer or his local representative. It became clear, that communities really appreciate the local entrepreneurs that help them and are there to stay. NGOs in the past, they come and go, which demotivated many communities. BluePump dealers are larger companies that are there to stay and to serve the communities in a professional way. That is why FairWater is supporting these dealers with advice and often as well with pre-financing sponsored handpumps from our FairWater TrustFund.
Paul van Beers
FairWater staat voor sociaal & duurzaam denken in water. Met het steunen van FairWater projecten geef je aan dat je dit ook in de praktijk brengt. Zowel in je eigen leven en organisatie, als voor de mensen in Afrika, die vaak moeten rondkomen van minder dan € 1,00 per dag.
Anders gezegd, het FairWater idee is dat het net zo vanzelfsprekend is om tijdens het tandenpoetsen de kraan even dicht te draaien, als dat fondsen voor een waterproject in Afrika effectief en echt duurzaam worden besteed, zonder het milieu onnodig te belasten.
Help mee Afrika ook duurzamer te maken en sponsor een duurzame waterpomp!
De FairWater missie is om iedereen in Afrika betaalbaar en goed drinwater te geven. Dit doen we met de oerdegelijke en betrouwbare Nederlandse handpomp, de “BluePump”, geplaatst door lokale bedrijven in Afrika ter vervanging van een kapotte VLOM pompen. Het fotobewijs van elke pomp vind je op onze Google Map.
Denken en Doen is twee
Veel mensen willen graag “iets” doen voor het milieu en voor een ander. We willen ook wat “terugdoen” voor onze welvaart en mensen helpen die minder hebben, vooral in Afrika. Als Nederlanders denken we dan vaak meteen aan water. Hier drinken we vanzelfsprekend schoon water elke dag uit de kraan, maar in Afrika moeten veel vrouwen en kinderen nog kilometers lopen voor water. Vaak omdat hun oude waterpomp niet goed te onderhouden was! Met FairWater kan dat nu beter en goedkoper.
Wat gebeurt er als je FairWater sponsor wordt?
- Dan financier je een duurzame water pomp; de BluePump, waardoor:
- Per pomp gemiddeld 300 mensen nu duurzaam schoon water dichter bij huis.
- Gezondheid van de gezinnen verbetert, dit is goed voor de lokale economie.
- Pomp onderhoud is nu veel goedkoper, dus blijft er geld over voor scholing en gezondheid.
- Werkgelegenheid wordt gestimuleerd; lokale bedrijven plaatsen de BluePump en geven training en service.
- Stimuleert ook de werkgelegenheid in Nederland; de BluePump is gezond Nederlands product!
- Uw logo op onze website geeft aan dat u FairWater steunt; geeft u bekendheid in positieve zin.
- FairWater logo op uw website bevestigt dat u duurzaam denkt en doet in water.
- Geen cent aan de strijkstok; FairWater besteedt donaties niet aan zaken waar u niet om heeft gevraagd!
Maar hoe kan je nu het meest effectief mensen in Afrika aan water helpen? Al vele jaren is men hier mee bezig en nog steeds vragen NGOs om geld hiervoor. Het lijkt steeds meer op water naar de zee dragen, bodemloze putten wordt ook wel gezegd. Het is inderdaad zo dat nu al ca. 40% van de waterpompen (ruim 150.000 ) al buiten gebruik is en dat dit alleen maar erger wordt; duizenden mensen per dag verliezen hun veilige waterbron omdat hun handpomp kapot gaat en ze geen geld meer hebben voor de dure reparaties. Heel triest. Hoe moet dat nu verder?
FairWater heeft een innovatief concept dat beter werkt
De situatie is inderdaad ernstig en dus hoogste tijd voor een innovatieve aanpak. Het kern probleem is dat de waterpompen (type VLOM) die men gebruikt vele malen per jaar kapot gaan. Het onderhoud is daarom gewoon niet op te meer opbrengen, helaas.
FairWater gebruikt daarom de BluePump, een zeer betrouwbare en robuuste Nederlandse handpomp die tot 100m diep water kan pompen met zeer weinig onderhoud en daarbij minimaal 10 jaar kan pompen zonder onderbreking. Eventuele reparaties zijn eenvoudig en goedkoop en juist dat maakt het verschil. De combinatie betrouwbaarheid en lage onderhoudskosten blijken doorslaggevend voor duurzaamheid.
De oplossing is dus eigenlijk heel eenvoudig: gebruik duurzame waterpompen om kapotte VLOM pompen te vervangen. Dat doet FairWater; eenvoudig en effectief.
Hiervoor is het FairWater Trust Fund opgericht, waarin mensen en bedrijven geld kunnen storten waarmee onze partners in Afrika de kapotte VLOM pompen in een dorp in Afrika vervangen door een BluePump. Per pomp kost dat gemiddeld € 2.500,-
Is FairWater een “gewone” NGO?
Nee, bepaald niet. Er zijn veel NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) die waterprojecten in Afrika doen. Echter, ondanks de alarmerende berichten over de VLOM pompen, gaan de meeste NGOs helaas nog gewoon door met VLOM pompen plaatsen, vooral omdat deze VLOM pompen goedkoop in aanschaf zijn. FairWater wijst erop dat ook in dit geval, goedkoop is duurkoop voor de mensen in de dorpen. Alle evaluaties van water projecten laten zien dat deze VLOM pompen niet duurzaam zijn. Daarom werkt FairWater niet met dergelijke goedkope VLOM waterpompen uit India, maar uitsluitend met de oerdegelijke Nederlands BluePump, die is veel betrouwbaarder, gaat minder vaak kapot en is daardoor veel goedkoper in onderhoud. Wij roepen dan ook andere NGOs op om te stoppen met het gebruik van niet duurzame VLOM pompen.
FairWater heeft ook geen dure kantoren met hoge overheadkosten. Wij sturen onze mensen ook niet eindeloos naar allerlei congressen en meetings om vooral maar te praten over de water problemen. Er is al genoeg gepraat over de waterproblemen, maar men gaat nog steeds door met VLOM pompen die niet duurzaam zijn. Wij zijn pragmatisch en vervangen gewoon kapotte pompen in Afrika en pleiten daarmee voor bewustwording voor meer duurzaam watergebruik wereldwijd.
Last but not least, FairWater is milieubewust en promoot duurzame concepten in alles wat maar met water te maken heeft. Wij zijn daarom tegen de onnodige verkoop van milieuvervuilende plastic PET waterflesjes in het algemeen en al helemaal als men hiermee ook nog niet-duurzame waterprojecten met bovengenoemde VLOM pompen wil sponsoren. Dat is echt dubbel triest. Daarom werken we samen met JoinThePipe, een organisatie die het drinken van Tap-Water bevorderd om zo het onnodig gebruik van milieu-onvriendelijke PET flessen tegen te gaan.
De Fairwater Visie
Één pomp voorziet gemiddeld 300 personen van water. Helaas zijn er al meer dan 150.000 pompen in Afrika kapot, waarmee 45 miljoen mensen weer zonder water zitten. Opnieuw een fragile VLOM pomp installeren zal weinig uithalen; dan zitten de mensen binnen drie jaar weer zonder water! Het moet dus echt anders, beter, met pompen die wèl te onderhpuden zijn. FairWater heeft die "no nonsense" aanpak en lost de problemen blijven op. Maar dat kunnen we niet alleen.
- Wilt u ook, dat uw geld effectiever wordt gebruikt?
- Wilt u ook duurzame resultaten zien, "Track & Trace?
- Bent u kritisch, maar wilt u ook nog steeds bijdragen aan waterprojecten in Afrika?
Als uw antwoorden "ja" zijn, deelt u de FairWater visie. U kunt dan ons werk steunen en controle houden over uw donatie. Voor een vast bedrag van € 2.500,- plaatsen onze lokale partners de duurzame Nederlandse BluePump in een dorpje in Afrika ter vervanging van een kapotte VLOM pomp.
Met ons unieke "Track & Trace" concept volgt u het project en krijgt u een eigen pagina op onze website en een foto van uw pomp met de exacte locatie op de Google Map.
Typische FairWater sponsors zijn milieu en sociaal bewuste mensen en organisaties die actief bezig zijn met duurzame ontwikkeling, ook in hun eigen leven en organisatie.
Onze sponsors geven niet alleen maar aan “een goed doel voor een goed gevoel”, maar ze kijken verder en willen ook weten dat hun geld effectief besteed wordt met een duurzaam effect: zowel voor de mensen in Afrika, als voor het milieu.
Onze hoofdsponsor is SANEX, door een vast bedrag (0,09 Euro) per verkocht flesje SANEX Zero% af te dragen voor onze waterprojecten in Gambia. Op deze wijze heeft SANEX nu al 50 BluePumps gesponsord ter vervanging van kapotte pompen. Click hier voor de SANEX video.
FairWater werkt intensief samen met lokale partners, dat zijn bedrijven en NGOs in Afrika, zoals:
Begin mei 2011 werd de eerste Sanex BluePump geplaatst door de Gambiaanse partner van FairWater, de firma Swe-Gam in Banjul.
Dit was een van de dorpen die we bezochten tijdens het bezoek van FairWater en Sanex in maart 2011, ter voorbereiding van het gezamenlijke project om in Gambia de kapotte pompen te gaan vervangen.
De BluePump is geplaatst op de oude put (destijds gemaakt door Caritas) waarop vroeger een handpomp stond in het centrum van het dorpje met de naam "Kafuta Tombung". De put stond midden in het dorp, dat was een goede locatie, omdat iedereen dan op loopafstand water kon gaan halen.
Waarom heeft FairWater de oude pomp vervangen?
Het probleem met de vorige handpomp was dat deze te vaak kapot ging, soms om de paar maanden. Omdat reparaties steeds duurder werden en tenslotte onbetaalbaar bleken, hadden de mensen in het dorp uiteindelijk geen water meer. De put werd afgesloten in afwachting van een nieuwe pomp.
Maar er kwam geen organizatie meer langs met nieuwe pompen. Zelf had men niet meer het geld om een nieuwe pomp te kopen. Dorpen zoals Tombung zijn daarom vaak afhankelijk van donoren voor een nieuwe water pomp.
De verlaten put midden in het dorp tijdens het bezoek van Sanex en FairWater
De mensen in het dorp vertelde dat ze graag op deze oude put in het midden van het dorp ook een BluePump wilden hebben. Enkele jaren gelden hadden ze gehoord van deze nieuwe Nederlandse water pomp, de BluePump. Deze zou veel beter en betrouwbaarder zijn dan de oude pomp die ze vroeger hadden. Uiteindelijk heeft het dorp al het spaargeld bij elkaar gelegd en bij Swe-Gam een nieuwe BluePump gekocht. Deze is begin vorig jaar in een buitenwijk van het dorp een BluePump geplaatst ter vervanging van de kapotte pomp. De BluePump beviel goed, maar pompte bijna dag en nacht en kon de vraag naar water eigenlijk niet aan.
Daarom wilde het dorp graag nu ook in de put in het midden van het dorp met een BluePump. Met deze extra pomp vlakbij, kunnen de vrouwen nu ook met dit water naast het huis ook een groente tuintje te beginnen voor wat extra inkomen en verse groenten.
De eerste nieuwe door Sanex gesponsorde BluePump is daarom in dit dorp gezet op deze verlaten put.
Typische rust rondom het middaguur in de "hoofdstraat" van Tombung.
Schoon water hier, schoon water daar
Bijkomend voordeel van Sanex Zero% douche-gel is dat het niet alleen in Nederland voor schoner water zorgt, maar ook in het Afrikaanse Gambia!
Voor elke fles Zero% douchegel die in Nederland wordt verkocht, voorziet Sanex één inwoner van Gambia een maand lang van schoon water.
Hoe werkt dat?
Sanex garandeert voor elke fles Sanex Zero% dat 1 persoon in Gambia voor 1 maand schoon water zal hebben, hoe kan dat? Goede vraag, want je hoort of ziet wel vaker: "koop dit, of voor elke 10 Euro zal een kind in Africa .... etc."
Vaak is het bij dergelijke "acties" nogal ondoorzichtig wat er nu echt met de donatie gebeurt helaas. Maar Sanex en FairWater maken het waar en laten het graag zien!
Als er bijvoorbeeld 30.000 flessen verkocht worden, is dat 30.000 maanden schoon water voor 1 persoon. Omdat Sanex voor elke 30.000 verkochte flesjes een water BluePump laat plaatsen, reken we dit om naar de gemiddelde wateropbrengst van één pomp. Een pomp wordt gebruikt door gemiddeld 40 families, oftewel minimaal 250 personen. De FairWater Bluepump gaat gegarandeerd minimaal 10 jaar mee. Omgerekend is dan 30.000 maanden voor één persoon gelijk aan 10 jaar lang schoon water voor 250 mensen.
Daarom plaatsen Sanex en FairWater voor elke 30.000 verkochte flessen Sanex Zero% 1 duurzame BluePump. De betrouwbaarheid en de goede kwaliteit van de Nederlandse BluePump met een goed systeem voor onderhoud maken dit waar.
Met de aanschaf van 1 fles Sanex Zero% geef je dus 1 persoon een maand lang schoon water!
De online actie vult dit aan
Voor elke online fan geeft Sanex óok 1 persoon een maand lang schoon water. Het is gemakkelijk en er zijn geen kosten aan verbonden! Met een paar klikken in een paar seconden kan je daarmee al iemand aan schoon water helpen. Het aantal online fans wordt gewoon elke maand door Sanex bij het aantal verkochte flessen Sanex Zero% douchegel opgeteld om weer een nieuwe pomp te sponseren. Click snel hier om mee te doen!
Wie doet wat in Gambia?
FairWater heeft geen lokale kantoren, dat zou alleen maar kostenverhogend werken en is dus niet meer van deze tijd. FairWater werkt daarom samen met lokale en bedrijven die een goede service geven. De FairWater partner in Gambia is het bedrijf Swe-Gam, dat een solide basis heeft in Gambia en al jarenlang ervaring heeft met het installeren en service verlening van watervoorziening in Gambia voor de overheid, particulieren en voor bedrijven. Swe-Gam is dus geen stichting of ontwikkelingsorganisatie, maar een gespecialiseerd bedrijf in de water sektor. Swe-Gam installeert daarom de waterpompen op een profesionele wijze en met garantie in de dorpen die een pomp krijgen via deze Sanex actie. De Sanex / FairWater actie zorgt dus ook weer voor meer werkgelegenheid in Gambia.
Dit is ontwikkelings-samenwerking anno 2011: professioneel en met inschakeling van lokale specialisten. Dure lokale kantoren zijn niet meer nodig, in de meeste landen kan men het nu zelf, mits men wel de juiste en duurzame materialen gebruikt.
Wie gaat de pompen onderhouden?
In elk dorp met een nieuwe BluePump is er een zogenaamd "watergroep", dat zijn een paar mensen uit het dorp die verantwoordelijk zijn voor het functioneren van de pomp. Echter, de groep installeert en onderhoud de BluePump niet zelf, dat doet Swe-Gam. Wel krijgen ze een training hoe ze erop moeten letten dat de pomp goed wordt gebruikt en wat te doen als er bijvoorbeeld een moertje even los gaat zitten. Verder heeft de BluePump geen speciaal onderhoud nodig want er zijn geen onderdelen die men moet smeren of regelmatig moet vervangen, deze bijzondere en innovatieve waterpomp is zo simpel en robuust dat hij bij normaal gebruik, vele jaren zonder enig onderhoud blijft werken. De watergroep is echter wel verplicht om een bankrekening te openen en daarop een bedrag te hebben staan dat gebruikt kan worden bij eventuele problemen.
De BluePump wordt door Swe-Gam geinstalleerd met één jaar gratis onderhoud en service, daarna is het aan de watergroep om te beslissen hoe ze in het vervolg het onderhoud willen regelen. Dat kan zijn met een onderhoudkontrakt, of per afroep als er een probleem is. In alle gevallen zal Swe-Gam ervoor zorgen dat de pomp blijft functioneren.
Staan er meer BluePumps in Gambia?
Ja, de BluePump is 3 jaar geleden in Gambia geintroduceerd en werd al snel populair bij de gebruikers toen men in de gaten kreeg dat deze pomp anders was dan de pompen die men tot nu toe gebruikte. In totaal staan er nu al meer dan 30 BluePumps. Omdat Swe-Gam nu een lokale voorraad heeft, beginnen de dorpen nu ook direct bij Swe-Gam de BluePump bestellen ter vervanging van hun oude kapotte pompen, al of niet met een Micro-Krediet. Het blijkt dat men liever afbetaald aan een lokale bank voor een betrouwbare waterpomp, dan elke keer weer veel geld uit te geven voor dure reparaties aan oude pompen.
De eindfase: rondom de basis van de pomp is stevig cement geplaatst.