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.
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.
Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector
Secondary Focus Area
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Afghanistan: Northern Provinces
Colombia: Llanes province
This documentary is explaining the Agos program in which Coca-Cola Foundation (Philippines and International) and AIDFI are partnering in supplying waterless communities with clean and safe drinking water by utilizing ram pumps. This program is part of the commitment of Coca-Cola to return to people or nature the water it is using. The partnership resulted already in over 115.000 people benefiting of the program.
Documentation made by REED Elsevier in relation to AIDFI having won the RELX Environmental Challenge 2015.
Documentary made of the work of AIDFI with its ram pump in upland communities in the Philippines. The film was made when AIDFI was still one of the finalists. At the end AIDFI won the BBC World Challenge 2010.
The ram pump was a forgotten technology with only a few commercial and expensive units in operation in the world till some four decades ago Appropriate Technology groups also developed cheap inferior working DIY models. AIDFI saw a huge potential for a crossbreed,, taking best of both. The AIDFI model is a precision machined ram pump but with cheap and easily available spare parts. The main moving part is an ordinary door hinge. The whole is that the ram should be easy to operate and repair.
Eventhough in many sites where the ram pump is installed for drinking water, the sources were already used by the villagers, it doesn't mean that the sources are safe. AIDFI build spring boxes around the source to avoid contamination and distributes individual ceramic filters to each household. At least this is how it is done in the program AIDFI runs already for five years with the Coca-Cola Foundation. Individual household filtration is favored over the expensive centralized filtration.
Several years ago a miniature scaled down version of its ram pump. It turned out to be the smallest working miniature in the world. It comes in a complete set in a camera case and can be demonstrated to communities or during seminars, orientations, workshops or exhibits. The box is rather small, can be hand carried and weighs only around 7 kilograms. It was already brought and shown in many countries. It is a perfect tool to show communities and the public how it works and what to expect.
AIDFI uses the ferro cement technology in each ram pump system. Ferro cement uses less cement and forms and has a wall thickness of only 2 inches. The structures utilizing the technique are the intake structures (springbox), ram housing and circular reservoirs. This saves in material, hauling and cost. The circular reservoirs are being build in different sizes to accommodate the daily output of the hydraulic ram systems. The ferro cement structures are water tight and earth quake proof.
The idea of AIDFI is to build quality ram pump using precision machines but with simple and easily available spare parts. The main part is an ordinary door hinge. The ram once installed in a far flung community has to be under the control of the community. For this reason at least two villagers are trained in the operation, repair and maintenance of the ram pump. No secrets are kept to them. During the turnover they receive a ram pump t-shirt and a complete tool box for the maintenance.
After three ram pump installations were set up by AIDFI technicians in Northern Afghanistan, three Afghans came over to the Philippines for a rigid technology transfer. This transfer covered all aspects of the ram technology: theory, surveying, technical study making, costing, pattern making, ram pump fabrication, actual installation, testing and tuning of the ram pump. The AIDFI ram pump is now being
successfully manufactured and installed in different sizes by the Kargar Brothers since 2008
AIDFI wants to build sustainable water systems and sense of ownership is of vital importance. For this reason equal stress is given to both the technical as well as organizational aspects. In advance to the technical team, a Community Development Facilitator enters the community to create strong sense of ownership through formation and registration of a water association, training in bookkeeping, leadership and value formation. Also participation in hauling and construction is being arranged.
Imagine an upland village were people had to bring up the water manually with a limit of 40 liters/day/household and were now 'suddenly' water is free flowing 24/7 near the doorsteps of the villagers. The first water coming out of the delivery pipes, which are not even yet connected to the public tap stands, create an festive atmosphere with the kids partying around. Next what follows is the lining up of tens of 20 liters water containers. This watched in disbelief by especially older people.
Wondering how the ram without electricity or fuel works. The hydraulic ram pump is utilizing the energy in free flowing water. Most of the villagers don't believe that a ram pump operates only on water and that it can pump water to elevations as high as over 230 meters. Some of them even commit to cut a finger if AIDFI is able to bring up water to their village without the use of a motor. During the official turnover of the ram pump system, we jokingly look for those villagers.......
A portion of the number of ram pump systems are installed in Indigenous communities which are often deprived of basic services, especially safe drinking water. Many unnecessary problems exists like skin diseases, diarrhea and water borne diseases which can easily be decreased with more and safe water free flowing in the community. Also in indigenous communities the water is not only used for drinking or sanitation but also for vegetable growing. Picture by Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines.
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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