Improving the sustainability of a centuries old technology

July 1, 2011

In the village of Sunaula Bazaar, women used to spend hours hauling water up steep tracks from the source below, but not anymore. Thanks to the installation of a hydraulic ramp pump which uses the energy of falling water to pump it to a higher level than the source, since May this year this remote hillside community in Nepal have had access to a constant source of water for domestic use as well as irrigation for 70 households.

Although an old technology, many ram pumps installed in poor communities, have not been successful due to a lack of maintenance and difficulty sourcing spare parts. However an award winning modification by Pilipino NGO – The Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation (AIDFI) has made it a simple, low cost and appropriate for use in developing countries.

In December last year, Renewable World started a new two year programme activity with our Nepalese partner – The Centre for Rural Technology (CRT) to bring water to two communities in Dhading district of Nepal using renewable technology. Since the programme started, CRT has received training on the building and installation of ram pumps from AIDFI and will be carrying out further training with the organisation in their workshop in the Philippines, to learn how to produce the pumps in Nepal. In the initial stages of the programme, CRT selected Rural Mutual Development (RMD) as a local partner organisation to work with and after carrying out a feasibility study, identified two communities in which to pilot the technology, of which Sunaula Bazaar was the first.

Community mobilisation sessions were carried out to explain the technical aspects of the project to the local people, as well as establishing an appropriate usage tariff, revolving fund and a management committee. The community has been incredibly supportive of the project and has been keen to contribute labour, materials and funds. A joint team from CRT Nepal, AIDFI, RMD and the local community worked vigorously to install the hydram in the first community of Sunaula Bazaar and the installation was tested and ready for operation by 27th May. Everyone involved was pleased to see that the system worked successfully and the local community was tremendously happy to see the water coming through the pipes meaning they no longer needed to go down the valley to fetch it.  The pump is providing in excess of what was expected so there is even more water to go around!

The hydram system will be owned and managed by the local community with a user committee, pump manager and hydram pump operators. The user committee will be responsible for the selection of the manager and operator. AIDFI and CRT will provide necessary training to the selected operator and manager after which they will be responsible for the daily operation and management of the hydraulic ram pump. The manager will be responsible for ensuring timely payment of bills by consumers and for dealing with issues such as tampering and theft.

If you would like to make a donation to support Renewable World to facilitate the second stage of the work, which will result in water for domestic use and irrigation for the community of Salyantar, you can donate online or text DRAM01 and an amount to 70070. For example to donate £10 text DRAM01 £10.