Pumping water with water

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Pumping water with water: through locally manufactured ram pumps

Bacolod City, PhilippinesBacolod City, Philippines
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project is about pumping water over high elevations from sources below communities and farms. Its about a water powered pump which is locally manufactured thereby keeping its cost low and the probability for promotion and spreading high. Bringing water into the upland villages changes lives.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could supply all upland villages and farms with water at hardly any cost
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are tens of thousands of upland villages and farms in the world which are without sufficient water or which are depending on rainfall. This creates health and nutritional problems and limits the economic development. There are technical solutions but or people are not aware of those or they are simply too costly in operation like fuel or electric engine driven pumps.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The hydraulic ram pump is a perfect device which can pump water to very high elevations without the use of fuel or electricity and without pollution. The water-powered pump runs automatically for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The AIDFI model is a crossbreed model between expensive to be imported models and the inferior models developed by universities and appropriate technology groups. The AIDFI model can be manufactured locally and is based on easily available spare parts like an ordinary door hinge. Local manufacturing creates local employment not only in the fabrication but also the installation of the pumps. The water being pumped up changes the lives of the upland villagers, provides better health, nutrition and livelihood.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Imagine a village situated 100 meters above a drinkable water source. Bringing up the water manually limits the amount of water available to just maybe 40 liters/day, just for drinking and cooking and washing of dishes. With the ram pump water starts free flowing in the community and the volume available per household increases mostly over ten times. Skin diseases and diarrhea cases caused by lack of water easily disappear. The people can wash themselves and their clothes near the houses and water can be used for growing vegetables, pigs or Tilapia fish around the house. This increases the nutrition and results in better health. In some communities the extra water can be used for irrigation of crops or for processing of crops.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The impact is huge. When it concerns drinking water, the supply of water through the ram lessens the burden and time of people to fetch water. The health situation improves because of more vitamins and protein made available now that the villagers have water to grow vegetables, have livestock or even fish. For irrigation it means pulling through a crop when rain stops early or even providing an extra crop. AIDFI has supplied already some 300 villages with around 180.000 people with water. The local fabrication provides employment for some 35 technicians and the installation for 60 technicians through 20 installation teams all over the country. The AIDFI model ram pump has been installed in some 11 countries already and the technology completely transferred to three countries (Afghanistan, Nepal and Colombia). The idea is to supply at least 30.000 more people with water yearly.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The idea for the Philippines is to keep the manufacturing of quality ram pumps within AIDFI, which is capable to handle increased demand because of new machines purchased. Then AIDFI has 5 installation teams itself. Besides AIDFI there are 15 more independent installation teams and this number is being increased by training teams from other islands. For other countries AIDFI suggests local manufacturing to keep costs low and promotion easy. For this AIDFI offers complete technology transfer. Besides the three countries mentioned AIDFI is now working seriously on transfer to Mexico.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

AIDFI is a registered NGO but rather calls itself a Social Enterprise. Clients pay for the pumps or complete installations and income is used to pay for the operational costs of the organization, do research or even expansion of the program. Since the pricing used for installations are rather kept low and affordable, there is hardly extra money to invest in machines or expansion of workspace. For this some financial support is normally sought.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The ram pump is an old technology which however never spread. On one hand there are expensive hard to purchase imported models and on the other hand the inferior models developed by universities or Appropriate Technology Groups. The AIDFI model is unique since it features the best of both: quality, durability with easily available spare parts (ordinary door hinge) at a low price. Also AIDFI is the only manufacturer in the world making ram pumps in so many sizes. Then the uniqueness is AIDFI's approach. It considers the social preparation equally important as the technology itself.

Founding Story

The founder worked in Holland on the university with a ram pump model made from concrete (cement). There it sticked to his mind that one day he would apply this technology in a bigger and different way. At the age of 23 he stopped working as marine engineer and make an option for the poor. It became the Philippines where he worked in a socio economic program for sugarworkers and discovered the absence of basic services especially in mountainous areas. Water appeared to be the most needed but with sources below the villages and farms and no grid available a local solution was not there. It was then that the ram pump came in the picture again and evolved by consistent research and actual testing in the field till it was perfected.


In AIDFI the staff and management own the organization and programs. They are with some affiliates the General Assembly from where a Board of 9 is chosen with 3 affiliates and 6 staff. This maintains a healthy balance between practical experience and new ideas. Consensus building is very important in the organization. Most staff are from the grassroots and fulltime employe with a few being on a one year contract. AIDFI has now around 50 staff.
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Organization Country

, NOC, Bacolod City

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NOC, Bacolod City

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Customers.

Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

- First E-Award of the Department of Energy (Philippines)
- Ashden Award 2007
- World Bank Panibagong Paraan 2008
- Energy Globe Award 2008
- Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism
- BBC World Challenge 2010
- Energy Institute Award for Community Initiative
- Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asian Nobel Prize) 2011
- Ramon Aboitiz Triennial Award Laureate 2012

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Through an e-mail

Tell us about your partnerships:

AIDFI is open for partnerships with any organization as long these are serious towards the technology we promote. It partners now with Coca Cola in the implementation of ram pump systems. Also AIDFI has a partnership with the government agency called Bureau of Soil and Water Management which adapted the ram pump for small scale irrigation. Then AIDFI parners with independent installation teams which instal ram systems all over the country

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

A big challenge is the copycats who steal the design and who are not doing a good job, thereby leaving a trail of disaster. This people, who are out to make money from the technology and who are not concentrating on the social aspects do no good to the promotion of the technology in general.
Another is how to maintain the quality of the independent installation teams which have been trained by AIDFI. Close monitoring and feedback seems to be the best method.