Here is another story from the Phillipines for the Source Story Contst 2010, submited by Auke Idzinga, Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation.
Many upland communities in the world have problems in accessing sources of water. However often springs, streams and rivers can be found below the villages. Elevation differences between source and the village result in small volumes (often only a few gallons) of water available. In the Philippines, where our local NGO called Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc (AIDFI) is based, this is not different. In many instances villagers have to go down 100 meters to fetch water. This lead to many problems: time is spent for fetching water, kids easily stay absent from school, many skin diseases and diarrhoea cases, elder people paying for the fetching of water, hardly any livestock, vegetable growing only during raining season etc. In Caliban, a sitio of Murcia, Merly Alojado a beneficiary of the ram pump said that water before was like gold for them, difficult to get.
There are many kinds of pumps: electric, fuel, solar, wind and manual operated. To make the supply of water to the villages or farms sustainable, we have to look at the appropriateness of each pump. All have advantages or disadvantages. But as long there is free flowing water, the hydraulic ram pump outdoes all. The ram pump is a device which utilizes the energy contained in a flow of water and which pushes a portion of that water to very high elevations. For every meter fall, the ram can push the water 30 times higher. The ram operates automatically 24 hours a day and has very simple spare parts. Operation, repair and maintenance can be done locally after training in the technology.
The ram pump is an old existing technology and in fact exists for over two hundred years, but despite the unbelievable principle it never spread. The reason for that is wrong timing in history: interest was only in big machines made possible because of cheap fuel and electricity. Therefore there are only antique models available which are hard to find, expensive to buy and the alternative models developed by Universities and Appropriate Technologies, which are prone to high maintenance and repair and limited in capacity.
AIDFI is a local NGO which was founded in 1991 by a group of people who worked in the socio economic programme of a labour union. These people had experience with the new agrarian reform programme. AIDFI realized that there was a lack of most basic needs in the rural communities. Since the author was part of the group and had previous experience with hydraulic ram pumps, this technology was incorporated in the program together with other pumps, latrines and small hydro power.
In a small rented bodega with a few basic tools and equipments, two technicians from AIDFI started working on a ram model from fittings. Modifications and field experiments were alternated. The guiding principle in developing a working model came from Antione de Sainte: ”A designer knows when he has reached perfection not when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to take away”. The model went through a few major changes. The model now is based on local spare parts and is in several ways unique: the waste valve set up is without any gasket, the moving part is the door hinge, is fabricated piece by piece and comes in many sizes. The AIDFI model is an in between the expensive imported models and the Appropriate Technology (AT) models. It is durable, easy in operation, repair and maintenance, very efficient and cheap. After having perfected the model, AIDFI staff developed a program around the ram technology in the communities: social preparation works, involving the villagers in the actual construction, setting up water associations, training local technicians and some watershed activities.
The benefits are tremendous even though how small scale. Kids no longer had to fetch water before school, old people no longer pay for fetching water, skin diseases are disappearing, diarrhoea cases became less, households had now extra water for vegetable growing , livestock and aquaculture. In the case of agriculture, extra crops are possible and therefore give a higher income. In many cases the water association is the first form of organization and helps further empowerment of the community. Lina Hilado, a 40 year old beneficiary of a ram system in Barangay Buenavista described the benefits as follows: “When the water project was put up in our place, our situation started changing. Now we can drink limitless, wash laundry and take body wash anytime we want….this reduced my children’s skin problems…..First time also that my heavily darkened cooking pots have been whitened and more important to me is that water has helped in expanding my vegetable gardening and my income”.
Interest in the ram technology started increasing and AIDFI set up and trained several installation teams on other islands. These teams acquire the ram pump from AIDFI and fabricate, construct and install the rest themselves.
After having perfected the technology and the approach AIDFI thought that it was high time to help the ram pump spread the world over. It started to participate in awards. In 2007 it got an Ashden Award from the hands of Al Gore, in 2008 it was a finalist in the Energy Globe, won a World Bank contest in the Philippines and in the same year AIDFI was personally invited by President Bill to Hong Kong. AIDFI is now a finalist in the BBC World Challenge 2010.
The international work of AIDFI on the technology increased. After doing three installations in Afghanistan, it trained three Afghans for 45 days in the Philippines. Back home they now have a special shop for the ram and are manufacturing and installing the AIDFI ram model (so far they have done 13 big systems). Also AIDFI has done installations in Cambodia where it has an installation team. In Colombia, Nepal and Madagascar AT groups wants to acquire the AIDFI model. However this kind of South-to-South technology transfer needs bigger funds.
Contact: Auke Idzenga, AID Foundation, maito email@example.com