Lifting up water to lift up communities

The holistic and passionate work of AIDFI with its ram pump is already changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor upland villagers.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Philippines

Headquarters location: City

Bacolod City

Location(s) of impact

Philippines: nationwide Nepal: nationwide Afghanistan: Northern Provinces Colombia: Llanes province


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Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Worldwide some 663 million people lack basic access to (safe) drinking water. In the Philippines around 35% of the villages are water less. Lack of water causes many difficulties for the populace in health, nutrition, sanitation and livelihood. The priority of AIDFI is working in these neglected and poor communities where the people must go down dangerous paths to fetch water manually and spent a lot of time for that. By now bringing up water automatically the lives of the villagers improve tremendously in many ways.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

If there is free flowing water even at 5 kilometers distance or 230 meters below the village, the AIDFI water powered ram pump can bring the water up 24/7 at no operational and hardly any repair and maintenance cost. The water being delivered in mostly tenfold, completely changes the lives of the families benefiting of it. The AIDFI model is unique since it is a crossbreed model which can be manufactured locally and has simple and easily available spare parts. Then AIDFI not only concentrates on building quality pumps and systems but applies a holistic community approach to create sense of ownership and a sustainable management over the ram pump drinking water system. Also, the solution of the AIDFI ram pump saves the environment of harmful CO2 and SO4 emissions compared to electric or fuel operated pumps. In the Philippines AIDFI expands its work through training additional installation teams and internationally through Technology Transfer (Afghanistan, Nepal, Colombia and Mexico)

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Bringing free flowing water near the doorsteps of villagers in tenfold, compared to what they used to have, brings many benefits: time and money saved from fetching, kids no longer skipping classes for fetching water, kids no longer bullied for smell, less skin and waterborne diseases, better sanitation, laundry can be done at home, better nutrition from vegetable growing, animal and fish raising and livelihood opportunities. In the Philippines AIDFI has installed ram pumps in 490 sites with nearly 1000 ram pumps which benefited some 260,000 villagers. Nearly a thousand local village technicians have been trained in operation, repair and maintenance. The ram pumps AIDFI installed save the environment some 6 Million-kilogram CO2 and over 100,000 kg SO4 on a yearly basis. Through four complete technology transfers AIDFI enabled groups in other countries to replicate the work of AIDFI. Two more technology transfers (India and PNG) are in the pipeline but lack the necessary funds.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

AIDFI operates as a self-reliant not for profit organization with its main initiative the ram pump, it covers about 80% of the yearly funds needed to operate. About 90% of this initiative is supported through grants derived from companies that AIDFI partners with. Only around 10% is through earned income from individuals who have a system installed either on their farms or for household purpose. All revenue earned is invested back in the program. AIDFI works already for five years with Coca-Cola and most probably this partnership will continue for another three years. Then AIDFI has a partnership with the Department of Agriculture which also already is in its fifth year. AIDFI is busy exploring new funding from corporations for them to off set their water use through the ram technology

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The initiative of AIDFI is very unique in the sense that it has consistently worked passionately on the technology in a holistic way for so many years. It developed a cheaper crossbreed model which can be manufactured, operated, repaired and maintained locally and is durable and efficient. In the same time a complete package on the social aspects was developed and applied. Most other ram pump initiatives are focused on the technical side only and their ram models are inferior in quality.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

The “Aha” moment of the ram was when I (co-founder of AIDFI) prepared myself at the age of 22 for my transfer to the Philippines to work with the poor. I volunteered with an AT group at a Technical University in the Netherlands. In a water-lab we experimented with a ram pump made from cement, bamboo pipes and pieces of car tires. Unbelievable to discover this technology for the first time and to find out that water can be pushed to very high elevation automatically without external energy. It never really left my mind and I always planned to further work with this ‘magical’ technology. I, and later AIDFI, spent tirelessly thousands of hours ‘playing’ with ram pumps and continuously worked to further simplify, modify and spread the ram. It is still a wonder for me why this technology actually never spread. Now 230 years later in a digital era we have the chance to do that spreading

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Attachments (7)

Pictorial Technology Transfer Nepal.pdf

The AIDFI ram pump is spreading in Nepal after a joint installation in Nepal followed by a rigid training of Nepalese technicians from CRT-Nepal in the AIDFI workshop in the Philippines.

Pictorial Technology Transfer Mexico.pdf

At this very moment a second Mexican technician from the company Trinysol is being trained in the workshop of AIDFI in all aspects of the ram technology. This training will be followed by a joint installation by AIDFI and Trinysol technicians in a Mexican village beginning next year.

Pictorial Technology Transfer Colombia.pdf

AIDFI transferred the ram pump technology to Aprotec Colombia, where till today the AIDFI model is being manufactured and installed.

Pictorial Technology Transfer Afghanistan.pdf

After having installed three ram pump installations for irrigation in uplands in Northern Afghanistan, AIDFI in order for the technology to spread suggested a technology transfer. That happened in 2008 with the training of three Afghans in the shop of AIDFI. They were trained in all aspects of the ram technology: theory, survey, system design and costing, ram manufacturing, installation, tuning and testing. The AIDFI model ram is now being manufactured and installed in Afghanistan.

Article Farming Matters.pdf

Farming Matters is a quarterly magazine about sustainable family farming and agroecology. Since 1984, Farming Matters has been providing fresh perspectives on the challenges and successes of amplifying agroecology. Articles from all over the world bring grounded experiences of family farming, agroecology and struggles for food sovereignty to life. The authors, who range from social movement leaders and scientists to family farmers, share lessons learnt from their own experiences.

ADB Water Champion, Auke Idzenga.pdf

Water Champions initiate or implement water reforms in their chosen field, and are directly involved in improving the water situation in their respective countries.

Impact studies of ram pump water systems in two communities.pdf

Impact studies made it two typical upland villages which had received a drinking water ram pump system through support from Coca-Cola Foundation. AIDFI, as a self reliant organization, never really had the resources and time to undertake impact studies. The studies confirmed however what we already saw, heard and observed in so many installations.


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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Really interesting work.

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