The Intelligent Water Project
☆ Increasing hand pump reliability
through cloud based web applications.
Millions of people living in rural Africa obtain their daily water supply from hand pumps, yet many hand pumps fail and remain non-functional. RWSN reports that in Africa as many as 36% of hand pumps are non-functional (Hand Pump Data, 2009).
Most current monitoring and evaluation practices rely on someone visiting and visually inspecting hand pumps. This can be logistically challenging and therefore especially costly for remote pumps. Since costs must be shouldered by the community and/or sponsoring NGO or GO, inspections are often initiated only when a community self-reports a pump failure. Sometimes communities do not report if there is concern in the community that they may have caused the failure. Inspection visits, whether initiated by the community or periodically scheduled, are expensive and give infrequent data. As a result, lengthy downtimes for hand pumps are too frequent.
Hand pump downtime affects entire communities, but women and girls are often tasked with procuring water from alternate sources, which often requires them to walk longer distances and experience longer queues, resulting in reduced daily productivity or school attendance. The alternative water sources can be unimproved and unprotected water sources which can lead to heightened safety and health risks. While the cost of keeping hand pumps working often exceeds available resources, the long term costs to the health and well-being of people and to local economics of hand pump failure can be even greater.
The Intelligent Water Project (IWP) automatically measures and reports the health of hand pumps and the volume of water extracted. IWP is configurable to also report groundwater levels. Sensor data is processed and uploaded daily to a secure data base in the cloud by IPW hardware and software. Cloud-based web applications enable further analysis and data distribution to stakeholders via customizable reports and alerts, including text message alerts of degrading pump conditions or failure. A key goal is to support field management processes that dramatically increase the reliability of hand pumps and decrease the cost of ownership . A secondary goal is the collection of hand pump data from all IWP enabled pump sources to provide a rich resource of data that enables WASH practitioners, managers, hydrologist and donors to make informed decisions.
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