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.
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.