February 8, 2011The Government of Mozambique has approved the use of rope pumps across the country. This represents a fantastic achievement for WaterAid, which has been
piloting and advocating the use of the technology in the country for
Breakthrough for WaterAid-endorsed rope pump in Mozambique
A rope pump in use in Lione village, Niassa, Mozambique.
WaterAid / Thérèse Mahon
Rope pumps are easier for communities to maintain than many other types of handpump.
Therefore they contribute to ensuring sustainable, long-term delivery
of safe, clean water to many of the more remote areas in Mozambique.
WaterAid has advocated for their use since our research found that
only 10% of Afridevs, a common handpump in developing countries, are repaired within a week of breaking down, and 40% fall into permanent
disrepair within three years.
The rope pump is easier to maintain - the most common part that needs replacing is the rope, which can be found in most local markets.
Erik Harvey, Technical Support Manager, WaterAid
Erik Harvey, WaterAid's Technical Support Manager, said: "Ensuring
facility maintenance is an endemic problem in the sector. Spare parts
for the Afridev are difficult to source. The rope pump is easier to
maintain - the most common part that needs replacing is the rope, which
can be found in most local markets.
"Some people argue that the rope pump breaks down more often;
however, we have found it to be more hard-wearing than expected, and
think frequent maintenance ensures the technical skills do not get
In order to ensure consistency across the country, the Mozambique
government had only authorized use of the Afridev. WaterAid advocated,
however, that communities should be given a choice of technologies for
After monitoring the pumps installed in WaterAid's pilot program,
the National Department of Water authorized the use of rope pumps in the
- For household water supplies (self supply)
- For the water supply of communities in rural areas that do not exceed 20 families or 150 people
- For use in shallow wells with depths that do not exceed 25 meters
WaterAid's pilot rope pump program
Rope pump technology was first developed in Nicaragua by the company
Bombas De Mecate, and WaterAid initially worked closely with them to
train local manufacturers in Mozambique.
WaterAid launched a three-year pilot program in 2003, and followed
this with recommendations to the government for a wider roll-out across
Three manufacturers were supported in rolling out rope pumps on a
pilot scale, and were encouraged to share their skills, knowledge and
experience to build capacity around the technology to develop a locally
"This has been a long process that has required lots of commitment,
both from WaterAid staff in Niassa and Zambézia, as well as from local
private sector manufacturers," said Erik.
"The big challenge now is to encourage these manufacturers to expand
their production and market the pumps for 'self supply' and small scale
irrigation. Increasing the numbers of pumps installed in an area will
encourage more people to become highly skilled in repair as well as
increasing the availability of spare parts.
"However, the Afridev is still in use in many areas and many
communities still prefer it. It is also the pump of choice in Mozambique
for deeper wells and we are working hard to help local governments
create local sustainability strategies for all water supplies.
"Let alone the fact that this is vital for people's health and
survival, it is simply cheaper to maintain a pump than to replace it.
This frees up capital to expand clean water coverage in other areas."
WaterAid is also running rope pump programs for shallow water
supplies in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, Nigeria and Mali.
Erik added: "We now have a wide range of experience across these
countries and we are in the process of pulling together the information
to help other WaterAid country programes or organizations introduce the