In much of the developing world, hand pumps are not scarce. Hand pumps can be found every few miles in some areas. These hand pumps were designed to reach down a well and carry fresh water up to the person with strength to pump the water up. When functioning correctly, hand pumps are a valuable safe water tool.
However, in some areas it is estimated that 70% of these hand pumps are broken, according to WaterStep Hand Pump Repair Volunteer Rick Jenner. Because of this, many people must walk miles every day, often passing previously functioning hand pumps to reach safe water sources. Access to water is already an issue to many of these people, and a broken hand pump only adds to the daily burden of reaching a water source.
WaterStep developed a hand pump repair program after spending time in these areas and recognizing the need for skills to repair these pumps. Jenner was among those who worked to develop the training program. “I thought instead of building new pumps, why not just repair the old ones at a cheaper cost?” he said.
Not only is the solution more practical, but it is vastly more cost efficient. While drilling a new well for a hand pump can cost $17,000, repairing a broken hand pump can cost as little as $20. With the skills, knowledge and tools required, any ordinary person can improve access to water for an entire community.
Hundreds have been trained at WaterStep’s indoor training facility, one of only two in the world. Those skills are then carried to locals in areas of need. Hand pump repair training provides essential skills and knowledge that can propel sustainable change and improved drinking water for decades. With individuals trained in hand pump repair, access to water becomes mush more reliable.
Steve Sikkema recently led a team in Nicaragua to repair broken hand pumps with our partner Water Ambassadors Canada. Sikkema leas training at the WaterStep headquarters, as well. He said, “Training is as realistic and hands-on as we can make it.”
WaterStep is taking this month to tell our stories of hand pump repair. With this simple, effective solution to safe water in the developing world, more people are taking ownership of their own access to safe water.
Stay tuned this month to learn more about the technology of hand pump repair, the stories, photos, and videos that inspire us, and how you can get involved. Follow @WaterStep on Twitter and @waterstepintl on Instagram to keep an eye on #handpumprepair, and be sure to follow us on Pinterest and ‘Like’ our Facebook page.
Check out our Hand Pump Repair Page for more!