'Smart Handpumps' Handpumps can be better - who is leading the way?

Smart Handpumps

© 2015 Sean Furey • Skat/RWSN

Project starts:
Project finished:
Collaborators & Partners: Several
Funder: Several


Drilling a borehole and installing a handpump is a common way to improve access to water for rural (and urban) people in many parts of the world. However, the failure of these water points is shockingly high, a third in many African and Asian countries and often much higher.

New communications technology is opening up the possibilities for 'Smart Handpumps' - handpumps that actively record how and when they are used and transmits that data to an organisation who can use that information to (a) mobilise targeted maintenance and repairs; (b) identity priority areas for future improvements and investments; (c) to understand the user needs better, and main other reasons that shift rural water supply away from 'fire-and-forget' projects and towards water services that last and that reach everyone.

Project Description

A number of organisations are developing and piloting technologies, business models and management systems that hope to make handpump water services more sustainable.

The purpose of this page to provide links to those organisations who are currently active in this area.

More Information

» Handpump Water Meter, Uganda - Water For People

also see: www.waterforpeople.org/making-a-difference/uganda

Water for People is a non-profit organisation based in the US (Colorado) and an RWSN member organisation. They are working to increase the sustainability of water systems by exploring the role of the private sector and the potential of water businesses to manage water systems. This includes metering of hand pumps.

» BlueCoins - Fairwater Foundation

The BlueCoin is a small plasic card (Credit card size), each card has an unique serial number and the logo of the BluePump with value of 20 litres. The caretaker sells 10 cards at the time to the users and receives them back when the people come to buy water.

» Intelligent Water Project (IWP) - Messiah College, World Vision & partners

The Intelligent Water Project is partnering with World Vision to transform the current method of data collection into a system that will automatically capture and organize data about hand pump functionality from both sensor and human sources.

» Mechanical meters - Vergnet Hydro

Vergnet Hydro is a long established pump manufacture based in France. Their manual pumps are generally foot operated and use a rubber diaphram to lift the water. The company is working on ways to integrate meters into their manual pumps to improve cost recovery and sustainability.

» MoMo - Welldone.org

Welldone.org is non-profit organisation based in the US (California) and has been developing a low-cost sensor. Research has focused on measuring the flow of water coming out of the handpump spout.

Currently piloting in Tanzania.
Collaborating with the World Bank, SNV, taarifa.org, MSABI

» mw4d - Oxford University

mobile/water for development is an interdisplinary research group based in the UK (Oxford). The team have developed a sensor based measuring the movement of the handpump handle, however this development is part of a much broader programme of socio-economic and environmental research and piloting, mainly in Kenya. Some of their work falls within the UPGro programme.

Working with UNICEF, DFID, Rural Focus Ltd, Government of Kenya and others.

» Pre-Paid Handpump Meters - Water Forever/Susteq

Water Forever International Ltd. (www.water-forever.com) is a Dutch for-profit social enterprise. It uses profits to improve and extent our services. After a pilot phase, it started our in Kenya early 2014. Handpumps are fitted with pre-paid meters. The technology is being developed by Susteq (www.susteq.nl) a Dutch social enterprise with support from SNV and Aqua For All.

» Pump for Life - MSABI

MSABI is non-profit organisation based in Tanzania, and RWSN Member Organisation, that is mixing the use water point mapping and sensors within the context of water service providers, focused on rope pumps

Working with: SHIPO, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Stone Family Foundation, USAID-funded iWASH programme in Tanzania.

» SweetSense - Portland State University

Portland State University is an academic institution in the US (Oregon) which is working on a multi-purpose sensor, which has being piloted in handpumps in Rwanda, and elsewhere.

Collaborating with Living Water International.

» Grundfos Lifelink

Grundfos is pump manufacturer in Denmark. Although not involved with handpumps, their LIFELINK system uses many communications and pre-paid meter principles that others (notably Water Forever) are attempting to use. LIFELINK systems have been piloted in Uganda (with Water Missions International) and in Kenya.

» Google Impact Award - charity: water

charity: water is a non-profit organisation based in the US (New York), and an RWSN Member Organisation. In 2012 they received a grant from the Google Impact Awards to develop a low cost, robust handpump sensor so that their in-country partners can ensure that water point remain functional and that that charitable donors are able to see on-line that their donations have been used effectively. This work is being headed by Robert Lee, Director of Special Projects.

» iMoMo

The iMoMo Innovation Hub based in Switzerland. It is fostering the development and deployment of new information and communication technologies (ICT) that are geared at crowdsourced data collection, online data synthesis and analysis as well as the distribution / exchange of the resulting knowledge for better decision-making in the water sector.

It is not currently looking at handpump sensor specifically.

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