The FairWater BluePump project

handpump Paul van Beers with the first GRA BluePump in Tanzania


 

The BluePump with the BlueZone O&M approach is since 2010 an ongoing international project initiated by the FairWater Foundation and managed by Paul van Beers, the co-founder of FairWater.

He holds an M.Sc. in Environmental Hydrology & Hydrogeology and has an international background with many professional contacts based on over 25 years of research and project management in Africa for Rural & Peri-Urban Water Supply, Hydrology and Environmental projects.

His country working experience includes Burkina Faso, Mauretania, Mozambique, Kenya, Angola, Benin, Chad, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, Brazil, Oman, Uganda, and South Sudan.

He participated in many studies on the evaluation of the performance of handpumps all over Africa. The overall conclusion was that many handpumps (over 50%) in the poor communities fell rapidly into disrepair due to the high costs of maintenance and non-available spare parts. It was estimated that in 2015 over 250.000 handpumps in Africa are permanent dysfunctional.

However, when he discussed this persistent maintenance problem with NGOs, donors and other stakeholders in the water sector, there seems to be very little commitment nor interested in doing something about this. Most NGOs carried on in the same manner. Often they financed themselves to repair broken pumps or replaced them with the same type of handpump, obviously with the same poor results. This is called "the hidden Handpump Crisis".

Nevertheless, because he strongly believed that this key problem of maintenance must be solved by introducing a better quality handpump, with a professional and privatized service system, he initiated in 2003 during his assignment as director of the RWD (Rural Water Development) project in Western Kenya the first testing and prototypes of what later would become the BluePump. To implement this quality approach in handpump projects, he started with FairWater to promote quality and a "Fair" approach a to solve the water problems for the poor in Africa; the FairWater Foundation

Initially, many NGOs and donors refused to believe the inconvenient truth that over 50% of the handpumps in poor communities fail and are abandoned withing a few years. Only after SKAT/Unicef issued a report in 2010, in which it was clearly acknowledged that indeed there is a huge problem with handpump maintenance, a slow process of awareness started amongst the NGOs.

With the FairWater Foundation, he could continue his mission and research to improve the BluePump.  After several years of testing and improving the design, with the help and feedback from many serious NGOs (with special thanks to Oxfam-Kenya, who tested the early designs in very deep boreholes in Turkana, Northern Kenya). The final design of the BluePump was issued in 2015.

handpump bluepumpThe BluePump is now the preferred community handpump all over Africa.

Today, thousands of BluePumps are constantly working in 10 countries in Africa, most of them in deep boreholes with water levels of 60 to 90m deep. The good news is that finally, the interest in the quality approach is increasing.

Many serious international NGOs are using BluePumps now in their projects, such Oxfam in Kenya and in South Sudan, IRD Swaziland, Care International in Mozambique, GRA and Millenium Village project in Tanzania, Obaki Foundation in South Sudan, Red Cross Kenya, South Sudan and Mozambique, ADRA in Niger, ASAP in Burkina Faso, British Army in Sierra Leone, etc.

BluePump in South Sudan

BluePump in South Sudan, installed by FairWater partner Obaki Foundation.
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