In Memoriam: Arun Mudgal – a great handpump guru, mentor and friend

Reflections from 3 past leaders of HTN/RWSN on the loss of great friend.

(1) Rupert Talbot, former Chair of the Handpump Technology Network (UNICEF – retired)
(2) Dr Peter Wurzel, former Chair of the Handpump Technology Network (UNICEF – retired)
(3) Erich Baumann, former Director of the HTN/RWSN Secretariat (Skat – retired)

Rupert: “I am writing to let you know that Arun Mudgal died on September 13th after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“Although his many friends will surely regret his passing, those of us who visited him in recent times will be glad that he did not linger for longer; Alzheimer’s is a fearful illness.

“Arun was a familiar face to many within the HTN/RWSN fraternity. He made an unparalleled contribution to hand pump development in India from the 1970s and was instrumental in putting the first India MK II and MK III hand pumps into production.

“I would argue that the Mark II simply would not have happened without Arun. At least, not in the form that we would recognise today. He was absolutely key at Richardson and Cruddas, the Government of India engineering company that manufactured the prototype Mark II pumps, field tested them in the deep bore wells of Coimbatore and closely monitored their performance, translating technical problems encountered in the field into pragmatic, engineering solutions; Arun was the conduit between Unicef field staff and the factory that first made the pump.

“It was his persona – his charm and calm disposition combined with astute engineering expertise and manufacturing know-how – that led to the mass production of the India MK II. The development of the pump is best summarised in the Skat/HTN Working Paper WP 01/97 : ‘India Hand Pump Revolution: Challenge and Change‘. Written by Arun, it is probably the most authentic account of how the MKII and Mark III hand pumps came about.

“Arun’s legacy is much more than the MkII and MkIII hand pumps, of course; in a career spanning some forty years, Arun also contributed to the development of the Afridev and the VLOM concept and he worked extensively on water quality issues, especially arsenic testing and treatment. His influence on rural water supply programmes stretches far beyond India’s borders.

“I and many others will miss his thoughtful insights into troublesome problems; we shall miss too, his companionship on those long field trips….”

Peter: “Arun was a dear and much admired friend. I had the privilege and pleasure to work with him in Mozambique and Ethiopia and we met several times over the years at handpump meetings. It was an education to talk handpumps with Arun and such was his towering knowledge and authority of handpump issues that his assertions on the topic were always received with little argument.

“But he was much more than a supreme handpump guru – he had an appealing, if somewhat serious, retiring and studious, personality. In essence a supremely nice guy. I shall remember his Arun as genuine and kind, humble, self-effacing with a quick mind who achieved much during a lifetime devoted to our sector and specifically handpumps – and even more specifically the India Mark II (though knew a thing or two about the Afridev too!).

“Farewell Arun – a friend and mentor to all who were fortunate enough to know you.”

Erich: “I do not know what to write. Even though Arun had in the last few years faded out of our life because of his illness. He was and will forever be remembered as the great friend and professional.

“A true handpump guru with many other qualities. I had the privilege to work with him for years very closely. We travelled several trips together and his input into the work was very valuable. As Peter rightly said also the Afridev development profited from his knowledge and experience. Look at the piston. But Arun did not a want to be put into the lime-light.

“One incident will stay with me for ever. Arun visited us in Switzerland and stayed in our house. Our youngest son had a bit of a rough time in school. During my next visit to India Arun gave me a small statue of Ganesh. He mentioned that Ganesh has a calming effect and if we would put the statue in my son’s room it might help him. He was not only a very rational engineer but also a believer.”

Arun leaves behind his wife Krishna, a son Prashant and a daughter Ankur.

Three common myths about solar-powered water pumping

By Andrew Armstrong (Water Mission), RWSN co-lead for Sustainable Groundwater Development

Solar pumping is the trendiest technology in rural water supply today. Policy-makers and practitioners are eager to better understand its benefits and limitations and the private sector is responding with a variety of product offerings. Much of this interest is motivated by the Sustainable Development Goal to increase water service levels in the most remote areas. A more compelling driver is that rural water users are willing to pay for service that is accessible near or within their homes. There is currently no more promising technology for meeting these expectations in off-grid settings than solar pumping. Despite this high interest and the fact that solar pumping technology has been around for decades, a great deal of misinformation is being propagated.

This post aims to address a few of the most common misconceptions.

Myth #1: Solar pumping is too complicated and not appropriate for remote, rural settings

The most common barrier to adoption of solar pumping is misunderstanding of its complexity and applicability. The technology is often avoided because of perceived technical and management challenges, which are in fact common to any rural water supply system. In reality, the design and installation processes associated with solar pumping are no more complicated than other motorized pumping schemes. Operation and maintenance is more straightforward than with handpumps and generator powered schemes which, as indicated in recent evaluations published by UNICEF and the Global Solar and Water Initiative, likely leads to higher functionality and reliability rates.

Solar pumps are applicable across the same head and flow profiles as grid- and generator-powered pumps, and most solar pumping equipment available today is essentially “plug and play”. External power backup for periods of low sunlight are rarely necessary if water demand is estimated and storage is sized appropriately. In addition, current off-the-shelf computer software tools simplify equipment selection and automatically consider daily and seasonal weather and solar irradiation fluctuations when estimating water outputs.

The high capital cost of solar pumping equipment often brings its large-scale applicability into question. However, the life-cycle cost benefits of solar pumping are well documented and are within and on the lower end  of IRC’s WASHCost benchmark ranges for piped schemes and boreholes fitted with handpumps. There is no fuel cost associated with solar pumps, and the cost of maintaining power generation equipment is greatly reduced because solar modules have no moving parts and long functional lifespans. Furthermore, the cost of solar modules, which represent the most expensive element of a solar pumping scheme, continues to decrease at a rapid rate.

Click here to read about the advantages of solar pumps compared to alternative technologies commonly utilized in remote, rural settings.

Myth #2: All solar powered water pumping equipment is created equal

Equipment manufacturers have taken advantage of demand and have flooded the market with solar pumping products of all varieties and price tags. Unfortunately, many are of poor quality and likely to fail in a fraction of the lifespan of higher priced, higher quality equipment. Low-quality products seldom come with warranties covering the first few years of operation during which failures are most likely to occur. Uninformed customers often fall into the trap of choosing cheaper equipment without considering that low-quality equipment fails quicker and costs more to maintain in the long-term. This results in solar pumping schemes which were expected to function for years failing and being abandoned after a few months in operation. The best way to guard against this is to stick with brands that have a proven track record for durability and reliability, even if it costs more up-front. It is also important to verify that products adhere to internationally-recognized certification and testing standards.

Another related challenge is that imitation spare parts for major brands are easier to find than authentic ones. Logos and barcodes can be forged such that it becomes difficult to detect if a part is counterfeit. This issue can be resolved by sourcing products from trusted dealers with good technical support capacity. The private sector can also have a positive influence on product quality. By providing local dealers with exclusive access to advanced training and support networks, major manufacturers can incentivize sales of quality equipment. In fact, some solar pumping suppliers such as Bluezone Malawi  are choosing to base their business model solely on high-quality products.

Myth #3: Scaling-up solar powered water pumping will lead to widescale depletion of groundwater aquifers

There is concern that solar pumps, because they can operate automatically whenever the sun shines, could pose a long-term threat to groundwater resources. It is true that exploitation of groundwater paired with low or misunderstood aquifer recharge can lead to potentially irreversible depletion, and there is a deficiency of good hydrogeological data in countries where the most interest is being placed on solar pumping. However, abstraction technology is just one of many factors that influence aquifer sustainability and solar pumping should not be devalued because of potential risks which can be mitigated. It is also important to note that the risk of groundwater depletion due to over abstraction with solar pumps depends on the application. Domestic supply withdrawals, in comparison to agriculture and protracted emergency applications, are likely to have negligible impacts.

Below are some actions that can be taken to mitigate the risk of groundwater depletion:

  • Proper borehole development and pump sizing to safe yield – Ensures solar pumps are physically incapable of depleting aquifers. A good resource for this is the RWSN/UNICEF Guidance Note on Professional Water Well Drilling. Simple control measures such as float valves and switches can also be employed to prevent wasting.
  • Better groundwater monitoring alerts authorities to potential risk areas. Many countries successfully employ remote monitoring systems (see, for example, the USGS’s National Groundwater Monitoring Network. Read more here.
  • Water pricing in the form of tariff collections and abstraction charges enables sustainable and equitable allocation of groundwater resources, but requires sound management built on transparency and accountability. Prepaid water metering technologies may also play a role.

Further resources

Resources are available to equip rural water professionals with knowledge and skills and stop the spread of misinformation about solar pumping. Of note:

In order to generate rich discussion and continue raising awareness of existing resources around solar pumping, the RWSN Sustainable Groundwater Development theme will host a three-week e-discussion from 28 May to 15 June 2018. For more information or to participate in the e-discussion, join the RWSN Sustainable Groundwater Development DGroup.

(Photo credits: Water Mission)



Handpump standardisation in sub-Saharan Africa: Seeking a champion

by Jess MacArthur, IDE Bangladesh

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Download the new RWSN Publication “Handpump standardisation in sub-Saharan African”

As a millennial, I have to admit: I really enjoy technology and innovation. I love to read innovation blogs and to dissect innovation theory. So just over two years ago as I began researching how innovation intersects development in the world of handpumps, I felt a bit stumped. An estimated 184 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) today rely on handpumps for their domestic water and many of these use designs that were developed before I was born. Yes, that makes me young and maybe that make you feel old. But mostly, it made me sit back and think. Is this beneficial or is this concerning? At the time I was helping Water4 navigate the policy-sphere around new handpump integration.  I wanted to know why certain handpumps have more dominance in certain areas and how innovators can pilot in the sector with both evolutionary and revolutionary designs.

Continue reading “Handpump standardisation in sub-Saharan Africa: Seeking a champion”


Improve International: Guidelines for Resolution of Problems with Water Systems

Resolution is the process of addressing problems with water systems or toilets. Such problems are often identified during monitoring or evaluation after a project. Resolution reflects the concept that the organizations that are made aware that water systems or toilets they built aren’t working are responsible for doing something. Read more in the Guidelines for Resolution of Problems with Water Systems (Executive Summary) and Guidelines for Resolution of Problems with Water Systems (full report).

Improve International: Lignes directrices pour la résolution des problèmes des systèmes d’eau

Résoudre est le processus d’aborder les problèmes des systèmes d’eau ou des toilettes. De tels problèmes sont souvent identifiés lors du suivi ou de l’évaluation après le projet. Résoudre reflète le concept que les organisations qui se rendent compte que les systèmes d’eau ou les toilettes qu’elles ont construit ne fonctionnement pas sont responsables de faire quelque chose pour y remédier. Plus d’information dans Lignes directrices pour la résolution des problèmes des systèmes d’eau (résumé exécutif) et Lignes directrices pour la résolution des problèmes avec les systèmes d’eau (rapport complet).

Water for People: monitoring innovation for “Everyone Forever”

Metered hand-pumps: Privately operated hand pumps as a way to improve sustainability and service delivery

To encourage private sector engagement in the management of water points, Water For People and Appropriate Technology Centre, Uganda are testing a meter for hand pumps. This product has been introduced to entrepreneurs with the expectation that they will prove to be better managers of water points than the current committees.

Water For People Core Indicators and Monitoring Process

This piece outlines how Water For People currently conducts district-wide community and household-level monitoring in all Everyone Forever districts at least once per year. Data is typically collected by teams consisting of our staff and local government officials.

Water for People: suivre l’innovation pour “Pour chacun, pour toujours”

Des pompes manuelles avec compteur: des pompes manuelles opérées manuellement comme façon d’améliorer la durabilité et la fourniture de services

Pour encourager l’engagement du secteur privé dans la gestion des points d’eau, Water For People et Appropriate Technology Centre, Ouganda sont en train de tester un compteur pour les pompes manuelles. Ce produit a été introduit aux entrepreneurs avec l’espoir qu’ils seront de meilleurs gestionnaires de points d’eau que les comités actuels.

Principaux indicateurs et processus de monitoring de Water For People

Ce document met en exergue comment Water For People met en œuvre actuellement au moins une fois par an un monitoring à l’échelle des ménages et des communautés au sein des districts du projet « Pour chacun, pour toujours ». Les données sont en général collectées par des équipes composées par le personnel du projet et celui du gouvernement local.

Poldaw Designs: Call for Project Partners: New Handpump for Deep Wells

“In various regions there is a need for a Public Domain handpump for very deep boreholes with Static Water Level (SWL) 60m to 100m. Existing public domain handpumps are often unreliable at these depths.

Poldaw Designs with WaterAid have developed a solution. Prototypes have been successfully field-tested in various countries for 3 years, and the results have been assessed by a Skat expert engineer. Before releasing into the Public Domain as a proven design, a final validation programme is needed, testing on at least 20 boreholes with Static Water Level in the range 60m to 100m.

We are urgently seeking a partner (or partners) operating in the field, to provide suitable sites and to work with us on installing and monitoring the pumps. Funding partners are also welcomed to share in this valuable project.

 If your organisation operates in areas with water levels in the range 60 to 100m, and you are interested in participating, then we would like to hear from you.”

For more information, please contact:  Paul Dawson pdsundew @ or Sandy Polak tapolak @ Poldaw Designs, UK. (Poldaw Designs is a not-for-profit division of Neale Consulting Engineers

Poldaw Designs: Appel à des partenaires: Nouvelles pompes manuelles pour des puits profonds

“Dans de nombreuses régions, il y a le besoin d’une pompe manuelle du domaine publique pour les forages très profonds avec un niveau statique de l’eau de 60 à 100m. Les pompes existantes du domaine public sont souvent peu fiables à ces profondeurs.

Poldaw et WaterAid ont développé une solution. Des prototypes ont été restés avec succès sur le terrain dans différents pays pendant 3 ans et les résultats ont été évalués par un ingénieur expert de Skat. Avant de le sortir dans le domaine public comme design ayant fait ses preuves, un dernier programme de validation est nécessaire, avec test sur au moins 20 forages avec un niveau statique variant entre 60 et 100m.

Nous cherchons de toute urgence un ou plusieurs partenaires opérant sur le terrain pour nous fournir des sites appropriés et travailler avec nous pour installer et suivre les pompes. Des partenaires financiers sont aussi les bienvenus pour faire partie de ce projet de valeur.

Si votre organisation opère dans ces régions avec des niveaux d’eau oscillant entre 60 et 100m et que vous êtes intéressés de participer, alors nous serons ravis d’en savoir plus. »

Pour plus d’information, contacter : Paul Dawson pdsundew @ ou Sandy Polak tapolak @ Poldaw Designs, UK. (Poldaw Designs n’est pas une division à but non lucrative de Neale Consulting Engineers)

WEDC: WEDC Conference 2015

The 38th WEDC International Conference will be held on 27–31 July 2015, Loughborough University, UK. The call for abstracts will be launched soon on the WEDC Conference website.

WEDC: Conférence WEDC 2015

La 38ème conférence internationale de WEDC se tiendra du 27 au 31 juillet 2015 à l’université de Loughborough au Royaume Uni. L’appel à proposition pour les articles sera lancé bientôt sur le site de la conférence WEDC .

UNC: Water Safety Planning Distance Learning Course

The Water Institute at UNC now offers a distance learning course on Water Safety Plans (WSPs) aimed at those in the water industry with management, engineering, or operational responsibilities.  Water Safety Plans represent a new approach to managing risks of water system failure that was developed by the World Health Organization and field-tested in the UK, Australia, Iceland, Nepal, and Uganda. Registration for the course is now open. To register or for additional information, email us: or visit the Water Safety Plans distance learning webpage.

Skat/WaterAid/Waterlines: Writing for WASH courses

In the run-up to the 7th RWSN Forum in 2016 (see below), we are looking to organise more RWSN “Writing for WASH” courses. The format is flexible and can be run over 2 or 3 days. Since 2012, Skat and WaterAid have run courses in London, Kampala, Dar Es Salaam, Monrovia, Madagascar, Bangladesh and Kiev. We are looking for host organisations, so if you would be interested in developing the writing and presentation skills of your staff or partners then please contact the RWSN Secretariat (sean.furey @

Skat/WaterAid/Waterlines: Ecriture pour les cours WASH

Dans la preparation du 7ème forum du RWSN en 2016 (cf ci-dessous), nous planifions de réaliser plus de cours RWSN « Ecrire pour le WASH ». Le format est flexible et peut être tenu sur 2-3 jours. Depuis 2012, Skat et WaterAid ont effectué des cours à Londres, Kampala, Dar Es Salaam, Monrovia, Madagascar, Bangladesh et Kiev. Nous sommes à la recherche d’organisations hôtes. Alors si vous êtes intéressés dans le développement de l’écriture et des compétences en présentation de votre personnel ou de vos partenaires, alors merci de contacter le secrétariat du RWSN (sean.furey @

a new phase of RWSN is on the way…..

2015 Theme Icons

RWSN is not a formal organisation, more of a shared idea. In 1992, the network was founded as the Handpump Technology Network (HTN) with a narrow focus on…. handpump technology. 22 years on, and this small group of engineers from the Water & Sanitation Program of the World Bank, UNICEF, Skat and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has become a much bigger family.

As of this morning we have 6,301 individual members, 23 RWSN Member Organisations (the newest are Yobe State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Nigeria and the German-based NGO, Welthungerhilfe) and we have an active team of thematic leaders from Skat, WaterAid and IRC as well as a tremendously supportive Executive Committee.

So where now?

Continue reading “a new phase of RWSN is on the way…..”

World Water Day – Is the Hand-pump dead?

Broken India Mk II in Eritrea (Skat)

In this short blog series on the successes of India Mark II, Afridev and Bush Pumps, however the challenges and set-backs that were encountered by these designs shouldn’t be discounted. Nor should it be overlooked that there are also successful proprietary designs, and self supply options like the EMAS Pump and the Rope Pump. However it is worth highlighting the heroic efforts of those people from all the different countries and organisations and what they achieved for rural water supplies worldwide.

In today’s debate, the humble hand-pump gets the part the villain: the rusting carcass in the corner of too many villages, or the subject of frightening statistics about how many are probably not in use at any one time, and how long they are out of service for. Many of the problems, framed in that weaselly catch-all “sustainability” have remained – doggedly – since the 1970s and before: pump manufacturing quality is often poor, boreholes are drilled badly, supply chains for spare parts fail, pump mechanic skills are lost, not enough money is collected to pay for the maintenance and replacement costs.

Continue reading “World Water Day – Is the Hand-pump dead?”

How three handpumps revolutionised Rural Water Supplies: the Zimbabwe Bush Pump

The Bush Pump has been serving the people of Zimbabwe for 80 years.How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supplies

In the new publication “How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supplies” from RWSN, Erich Baumann explains how three handpumps, the India Mark II, the Afridev, and the Zimbabwe Bush Pump were developed and Sean Furey explores what lessons can be learned for scaling up WASH technologies today.

Unlike other handpumps used across the world, the Bush Pump has a long history. It was born in Zimbabwe in 1933, and designed by Tommy Murgatroyd, a Government Water Supply Officer in Matabeleland. Murgatroyd established the basic components of all later Bush Pumps – a wooden block, a strong pump stand and heavy-duty components.
Continue reading “How three handpumps revolutionised Rural Water Supplies: the Zimbabwe Bush Pump”

How three handpumps revolutionised Rural Water Supplies: the Afridev

1980 to 1990 was the International Decade of Water Supply and Sanitation and the greatest hand-pump project began.How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supply

In the new publication “How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supplies” from RWSN, Erich Baumann explains how three handpumps, the India Mark II, the Afridev, and the Zimbabwe Bush Pump were developed and Sean Furey explores what lessons can be learned for scaling up WASH technologies today.

As part of that UNDP and the World Bank established a joint Water & Sanitation Program (WSP, which still exists as part of the World Bank) and one of its flagship projects was the Hand-pump Project, led by Saul Arlosoroff, which rigorously tested all the hand-pumps around the world that they could get their hands on. Their final report “Community Water Supply: the Hand pump Option” (1987) is still the defining text in hand-pump literature.

The hand-pump project also defined Village Level Operation & Maintenance (VLOM), the concept of making hand-pumps easier to maintain by the users so that minor breakdowns could be repaired quickly.  The India Mark II was not a VLOM pump because it required specialist tools and some skill and strength to make repairs to the pump cylinder down in the borehole. This was addressed through a design revision, imaginatively called the India Mark III. However the hand-pump team throught they could still do better and so two handpump design projects began.

Continue reading “How three handpumps revolutionised Rural Water Supplies: the Afridev”

How three handpumps revolutionised Rural Water Supplies: the India Mark II

How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supply1974: UNICEF reviewed their water supply programme in India. The results were shocking: of the tens of thousands of wells drilled over the previous seven years, 75% were not supplying water.

In the new publication “How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supplies” from RWSN, Erich Baumann explains how three handpumps, the India Mark II, the Afridev, and the Zimbabwe Bush Pump were developed and Sean Furey explores what lessons can be learned for scaling up WASH technologies today.

In the mid 1960s, drought ravaged India, and the Government of India asked UNICEF for help with improving access to water through borehole drilling. In the following years, the emergency drilling campaign evolved into a broader national programme to improve rural water supplies, but the attention was focused on the drilling and the boreholes. No one gave the hand-pumps that went on them much thought. That all changed in 1974.

Continue reading “How three handpumps revolutionised Rural Water Supplies: the India Mark II”