FairWater: durable handpumps for low-cost operation

Wouldn't it be nice if donated handpumps
do not break down all the time
and could be maintained 
at low-cost

Please note that we are currently updating this website...
 some pages are not yet complete

Video: Rehab with durable FairWater BluePump in The Gambia

FairWater promotes sustainable BlueZones in Africa
and rehabilitation of broken down handpumps
We only use
 the rock-solid, reliable Dutch BluePump
installed by professional local partners.
This creates local jobs & reliable water supply
at the lowest costs for the users

Click here to know more about FairWater Projects in Africa 

FairWater replaces broken down handpumps in Africa with the reliable BluePump. We make BlueZones that are supported by professional local Water Service Providers (WSP) in collaboration with our partner organizations in Africa (Oxfam, UNICEF, IRD, ASAP, CSC, ADRA, Samatarian Purse, etc.).

The FairWater BlueZone approach is gives the donors the best guarantee that the handpumps are maintained. For each € 2.500,- FairWater replaces a broken down handpump by a BluePump. Sonsors can have their logo and own page on this website as well.

The FairWater BlueZone approach creates safe & afordable water points. At the same time, we create long term jobs in Africa.

Why is funding still needed?
Good question, you probably know that over the last decades, billions of US$ have already been donated for many water projects, but do you also know how effective this was? Which part was really spent on helping people to get secure and affordable water points? What is the situation now? 


Click here for the video of the Bill Gates 15M US$ study.
(Unfortunatly, so far Bill Gates only funded this study,
but the people in Africa cannot drink reports
so, let's hope there will be a follow up with BluePumps...)

Most donated handpumps don't work anymore 

Over 350.000 handpumps have been installed in Africa, but UNICEF/ SKAT data show that in most countries 40% to sometimes up to over 70% of these handpumps are abandoned. Most of the abandoned pumps are so-called "VLOM" pumps made in India. VLOM means that the community should maintain them without external support.

The VLOM pumps are rather cheap but not reliable enough to be used in an African community. Evidence shows that such VLOM pumps don't last. Due to frequent repairs and missing spare parts these pumps become a nuisance for the users and very expensive or impossible to maintain. It is expected that within a decade, most of these VLOM handpumps in Africa don't work anymore.

Conclusion 1.
It is not fair of NGOs to impose fragile VLOM pumps to the communities.

Conclusion 2.
Sponsors of water projects should insist that NGOs use durable handpumps.


What is the best way forward?
The good news is, that most of the broken VLOM pumps are installed in wells that can still be used. In most cases, the broken VLOM pump can be taken out and replaced by a reliable BluePump. Such a rehabiliation is easy and can be done in a few hours because the BluePump fits directly on the base of most VLOM pumps.

The FairWater rehabilitation approach is therefore fast and cost-effective, and also creates sustainable water points, because the reliable BluePump fits in the regional support structure of the BlueZone.



  Let the people decide what is best for them ... 
do NOT imposing fragile VLOM pumps ...


What about the MDG's??
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) hoped to improve the water situations by the year 2015, through massive funding injections from many donors. Thousand of new India VLOM pumps were again donated. Evaluations show that in some countries the situation has temporarily improved. Obvious, only temporarily; after a few years also these recent VLOM pumps will be abandoned and the situation will be the same again. Click here for the report. 

Statistics are hard to beat, also in Africa. Sustainability is the result of reliability and low recurrent cost for the users. It is not about how much funding you can raise with a flashy fundraising campaign, it is how you use the funding wisely and most effective.


Problems in deeper boreholes
In areas with deeper groundwater the handpump failure rate can be even over 80%. Some pumps already break down within a few weeks and the poor people pay a fortune for the many repairs.
This is really bad. In stead of lifting them out of poverty, the VLOM pump makes them more poor. In such zones every drop counts, alternative water points are far away and often polluted.


Thee is an underlying, even deeper problem to solve...
A recent UNICEF / SKAT study is amazingly open about handpump maintenance problems:


 ... "However, 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 back 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" ...


The same report also highlights the underlying main problem, which is that many NGOs have become fundraising institutes and lost focus to invest in more sustainable solutions:


 ... "Nevertheless, most of us carry on as before. A rehabilitation programme tends to use the same management and maintenance principles and training"....


Money down the drain ....
For more than 25 years, over 10 million US$ per day was spend on water projects in Africa and still NGOs ask for more funding for fragile VLOM pumps while Africa is slowly turning into a handpump graveyard.

Why do VLOM pumps break down ?
Most VLOM pumps break down due to relatively "small issues". One of the main problems is caused by such "simple" parts like a rubber seal on the pluger of the pump (see picture below). It may be just a "simple" rubber seal, but it is very difficult to replace, because it is located deep inside the well. Therefore the whole pump must be taken apart and sooner or later the re-installation goes wrong. To make matters worse, many of those "simple" part are often not locally available, do not fit right or are put in wrongly, or cost a fortune on the local black market for spares. The result is that in the end people give up and the pumps is abandoned.

Statistics show that handpumps in Africa have an average functional life of about 3 to 5 years; This means, that each year about 10.000 handpumps need to be replaced, which is an equivalent loss of funding of about 150.000.000 US$ per year, or nearly 500.000 US$ per day..

problem is the small rubber washer

Girl showing the killer ; the rubber seal on the plunger ...

The majority of the handpumps that work are from recent projects.
Obviously, NGOs don't like to talk about this; they should know by now that most of their handpumps are not sustainable. Until recently, there was no alternative and they could do little about it. They had to deal with the available handpumps made in India, so they had no choice....

About 150.000 broken down handpumps in Africa

Typical picture: all over Africa you find broken India VLOM pumps

FairWater solution really works: Reliable BluePumps in a BlueZone
The good news is, that FairWater, with the help of several NGOs (Oxfam, UNICEF, IRD, ASAP, CSC, etc.) developed a new handpump maintenance concept that provides a safe & reliable water supply at very low cost for the users: The BlueZone Approach.

In a BlueZone there is one service provider who installs and maintains the Dutch & reliable FairWater BluePump an innovative handpump that is very reliable and can lift water by hand from up to 100m deep.

There are now already several BlueZones in Africa with over 700 BluePumps, sponsored by major NGOs Oxfam (Kenya), UNICEF (Mozambique), ADRA (Niger), UNDP (Tanzania and Gambia), Global Water Resources (Tanzania), and many smaller NGOs.

The BluePump is extreamly strong and reliable and can be maintained at low-cost without the need for such a critical spare part as a "simple" rubber seal. The BluePump is therefore now considered by international experts as the most suitable and vertile community handpump for Africa for all depth. Therefore the BluePump is rapidly becoming popular with the users and with serious NGOs, mainly due to it's reliable operation, but also already famous for higher water output, light pumping and professional low-cost back up in case of a "Murphy" problem.

Happy kids using a FairWater BluePump from a depth of 65m in Mozambique

Unique innovative Sponsor Concept
Together with the inroduction of a sustainable concept for community water supply, FairWater also developed an unique and innovative sponsor concept to lower the cost for the communities. To do so, the Cap of the BluePump can be used for advertising or for any message for the community or for a sponsor logo. For instance a donor that would like to advertise a health related subjects like Aids Prevention, could sponsor a BluePump near a hospital or school and put his message on the cap. This is highly effective, because a water point is always a focus point in a community and people will see the message every day.

This also offers excellent business opportunities for Mobile Phone companies or Banks,
who want to have their name well known in the rural areas and at the same time
want to
improve on otheir corporate image by providing water.

The message can be either screened or painted on the cap or put on the frontside of the pump on a plate that is secured on the cap with 4 rivets.

EEPC sponsored BluePump in Burkina Faso

EEPC sponsored this BluePump for a school in Burkina Faso

FairWater school BluePump with advertising in Burkina Faso

The FairWater cost-effective rehabilitation approach
The most cost-effective way to help communities and schools with sustainable water supply is to rehabilitate broken down handpumps and not to drill new expensive boreholes. Imagine, to make a new borehole cost between 10.000 to 20.000 US$, but with a rehabiliation, the old borehole can still be used and only the price of the pump and installation needs to be paid.

FairWater itself has a focus on schools to rehab abandoned handpumps with the BluePump in our water4schools program. Click on the menu left to see our results. Obviously, we cannot rehab every broken pump in Africa ourselves, for that we need the support of strong sponsors like Bill Gates? Contact us if you also want to support a rehab of a broken school pump.

Information about Water & Sanitation (WatSan) issues
On our watsan.com website FairWater also offers easy access to more WatSan information for the industry and discussion to share and discuss online WatSan topics on the WatSan information pages. 

If you want WatSan News or information to share...

go to www.watsan.com
and make your own page

it's free, easy and fast

You can also become a FairWater Partner and sponsor a BuePump, contact us.

FairWater Foundation

Keizersgracht 676 
1017 ET Amsterdam 
The Netherlands
Phone +31 (0)20 - 260 1171

Email to: info@fairwater.org

"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. 
When you pay too much; you lose a little money - that is all. 
When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything
because it was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do".
- - -
"The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot
 - it cannot be done -.  If you deal with the lowest bidder it is well to
add something for the risk you run, and if you accept that
you might as well pay some more for something better".

John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

Disclaimer: Fairwater is not responsible for the quality of any information, products or services offered on this site and cannot be liable for any misspelling, misuse or event in whatever way, which may be caused, directly or indirectly by using this website, or any of the articles, contributions or items published on this site. We reserve the right to edit, change or update the content of this website without prior notice if deemed necessary.

Please note
Fairwater has changed early 2010 the name of its handpump design into "BluePump" and that we do not use or recommend to use by anyone the old name of our handpump anymore to avoid confusion with the existing Afridev public domain handpump.