In 2006, MWI supplied a number of SolarPedalflo units to the Government of Malawi and they undertook the responsibility of installing and maintaining each of the units. We recently discovered one such unit in operation in the Township of Mangochi in southern Malawi. This particular unit received little or no maintenance over the past nine years and yet it continues to provide a continuous and reliable source of safe drinking water for the villagers. The photo on left speaks for itself and is a testament to the durability of the MWI SolarPedalflo that results from high quality design, engineering and components that go into each unit.
In some parts of rural Sri Lanka, long walks to fetch water from a well or river are part of the daily routine. Clean water is used sparingly for cooking and drinking and in some places the water used for bathing, washing clothes or pots and pans is contaminated and presents health risks. At the Mahawella Tea and Rubber Plantation in Ratnapura, health authorities have declared the runoff and surface water contaminated; some of the wells were not protected sufficiently to avoid being contaminated as well. Some of the people who live and work for the estate, especially on the higher hill slopes, began to suffer high rates of diarrhea and stomach ailments, diminishing their daily income through incapacitation by illness.
Searching for solutions to improve access to clean water at Mahawella, the management came across a simple yet innovative device called the SolarPedalflo. Developed by the U.S. based Moving Water Industries (MWI), the equipment was identified by Energy Management Services (EMS) Sri Lanka, during a USAID-sponsored visit to the Water Environment Federation Annual Exhibition.
USAID was instrumental in promoting a partnership between MWI and EMS, and also provided a technology promotion grant through the Council of State Governments to sponsor an MWI engineer to install and test the SolarPedalflo. Through USAID sponsorship, SolarPedalflo was introduced, providing much-needed clean water to the Mahawella estate community.
The SolarPedalflo is a solar powered water pump with back-up “pedal” power, much like a bicycle, to be used when solar power is not available. The solar panels produce 350 watts of energy, lifting up to 300 gallons of water per hour from a depth of 40-45 meters to elevated storage tanks. The unit comes with an automatic dechlorinator to destroy viral and bacterial contamination, as well as micron filters that remove impurities. Placed on top of the well, the unit protects it from the contaminated run-off water. It is best suited for areas with high rainfall and cloud cover, or remote areas that do not have pipe-borne water or grid electricity.
A committee has been set up to manage the “affairs of the pump” in an open forum. The estate management has been supportive and works closely with the community to ensure that the operations are carried out successfully. A fee of Rs. 10 per month is collected from the users to meet maintenance costs, a small price to pay for the privilege of a constant supply of accessible, clean water. More than 350 estate workers and their families have benefited from the improved access to a regular clean source of water from the two taps connected to two tanks set up practically in their backyards.
USAID/US-AEP assistance allowed Sri Lanka to introduce new technology that not only proved suitable but also helped to develop and implement a community managed investment recovery mechanism that ensures sustainability.
Another SolarPedalFlo installed in Haiti along with the help of National Service of Drinking Water(SNEP). The community created a water treatment group to help protect and maintain the SolarPedalFlo over the years and when we checked back with the unit in 2005, we had no issues reported.
Lake House, The Associated Newspaper of Cylon Ltd.
By Hiran H. Senewiratne
Published Wednesday, August, 10 2005
Safe drinking water is going to be scarce not only in urban areas but also in remote villages due to pollution. As part of the daily routine of women in the plantation areas, they spend a lot of time to carry water from wells or rivers to their homes. They do not have access to safe water for drinking and cooking in those areas. The water that they carry to their homes is used sparingly for cooking and drinking while for other purposes including bathing, washing clothes or pots and pans, it is used regardless of how contaminated the water may be. This exposes the people, including small children, to many diseases. Yet life goes on.
However, this was the reality for some of the people who live and work in the Mahawella Estate of the Balangoda Plantations Ltd in the Ratnapura district. This community is on a tea and rubber plantation with hilly terrain. According to the estate’s superintendent Jinendra Ratnayake, the run-off water and surface water in the area has been declared “contaminated” by local health officials and some of the wells in use were not always well protected from the elements.
The solution for this came through the joining of Moving Water Industries (MWI) , a US based manufacturing company and Energy Management Services (EMS), a local company. Together they decided to utilise MWI’s innovative and patented Solar PedalFlo™ to provide the safe drinking and cooking water for the community. This was opened by the Commercial Attache and Economic Officer of the Embassy of the United States in Sri Lanka Richard C.Merrin. He said that access to drinking water is the first step towards poverty reduction in Sri Lanka. USAID assisted to bring the machine to the estate. He said that this water project is a service to the community. Ratnayake said this was a pilot project started six months ago. It was successful in preventing water borne diseases in the estate. According to statistics the estate has recorded fewer water related cases after setting up the project.
The SolarPedalFlo™ is a solar powered water pump with a back-up ”pedal” power supply for times when solar power is not available. The pedal apparatus is similar to an exercise machine or bicycle. The solar panels produce 350 watts of energy and can be manually adjusted to catch maximum sunlight. This gadget can lift up to 300 gallons per hour from a depth of 40- 45m that can be pumped to an elevated storage tank. It has a built-in and automated chlorinator to purify the water. The total investment for the whole project is around Rs 2 million. This is a community-managed effort with an elected committee chosen to handle the affairs of the pump. The committee is made up of men and women from among the beneficiaries and issues are discussed in an open forum.
The estate management is supportive of this initiative and they work very closely with the community to ensure that the operations are carried out successfully. The committee members have been trained in the operation and maintenance. They share the tasks of pedaling , cleaning the filter and maintaining the system. This will benefit more than 75 families in the estate , Ratnayake said.
The estate Superintendent heads the Committee. Each person will get 20 litres of water per day. General Manager Balangoda Plantations Ltd Anil De Mel said they intend to popularize this among other estates in the company. The Plantation Human Development Trust came out with this concept and they are the first company to set up this water project in the country.
This photo was taken in Bamako, Mali in 2003 just moments after the children had their first taste of clean and safe water from the SolarPedalflo unit which MWI donated to the community.
Konodimini had serious potable water problems. For years, five small pumps served a village of 3,500. Half the time the pumps were broken. Even when all five pumps were working, they were never able to produce enough clean drinking water for the entire village, or irrigate vegetable gardens that were an important food source. Each neighborhood guarded its pump jealously. When the pump broke, they had to ask another neighborhood to help them out and the request was not always granted when water was scarce. There was bickering over water, and it divided the people in the village.
Effective and transparent governance was a problem, particularly when it came to managing the water supply. In Mali, lack of clean drinking water leads to potentially deadly diseases like cholera and diarrhea – which is the second highest cause of death among infants. Many villages in this mostly desert country were experiencing the same kind of drinking water problems. In Mali, 113 out of every 1000 infants die before their first birthday.
To help address its water challenges, USAID formed a partnership with Moving Water Industries, the West African Water Initiative (WAWI), the Government of Mali, and local community leaders to provide an adequate and reliable supply of potable water to villages desperately in need.
USAID invested over $490,000 and secured over $570,000 more from private industry, non-governmental organizations and the government of Mali in a public-private alliance to help bring clean drinking water to over 48,000 rural Malians. The money is used to work with villages in introducing a new, sturdier kind of water pump powered by the sun or villagers’ own feet: the SolarPedalflo.
When the people of Konodimini were told that the village would be an active participant in not only installing but also managing the new pump, they readily agreed. Konodimini immediately formed an oversight committee, comprised of both men and women, that would take responsibility for the proper functioning and maintenance of the pump. They drafted bylaws, established a price-per-bucket policy, and identified when certain groups would have access to the pump – for example, women in early morning and at dusk.
The pump provides enough water for 600 people a day (at 20 liters per person) -that’s three to four times the amount of water from one borehole that a hand pump can produce.
USAID expects diarrhea in the village to be reduced by 90%.
The SolarPedalFlo pump unites village and empowers people to manage safe, reliable water. This was the first time that the entire village actually put together a management plan -they were in fact governing. Two men, who hadn’t spoken to each other in years, were serving on the oversight committee together and were talking. Pride replaced jealousy. The pump united the village. With the much increased, reliable water flow, the women decided to greatly expand their vegetable garden from just a small plot to a full hectare. The garden provides an excellent source of nutritious food for the village. The surplus vegetables are sold in a nearby market. The proceeds will pay for school fees, medical supplies and more seeds.