Remembering Paul van Beers (19 April 1950 – 19 April 2020)

“Always eccentric, often controversial; always authentic, often misunderstood; Paul was never boring. He enjoyed challenging the status quo and stirring things up.”

by Dr Peter Harvey, Chief – Water, Sanitation & Education Centre, UNICEF Supply Division

When I first met Paul twenty-odd years ago at a WEDC Conference, he was (surprise, surprise!) talking about handpumps. I was immediately captivated by his passion and imagination.

Always eccentric, often controversial; always authentic, often misunderstood; Paul was never boring. He enjoyed challenging the status quo and stirring things up. He sometimes upset people by his exaggerations (e.g. the ‘spare parts free handpump’) and his repeated promotion of everything ‘blue’ but none of this was in the interest of ego or self-gain. He was passionately committed to improving the well-being of those living in the poorest communities in rural Africa, and he was convinced the water sector could do so much better.

He believed passionately that handpumps should not breakdown often and that the prevailing statistic of one-third of non-operational pumps in sub-Saharan Africa was unacceptable. He was frustrated by the apparent insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. He recently quoted the car manufacturer Henry Ford, who said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses, highlighting how people tend to stick to what they know. He believed in the power of innovation and that no one should have to make do with inferior products or services.

A professional hydrogeologist, Paul’s passion was rural water supply. He lived and worked for extensive periods in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique, Angola and Kenya, before returning to the Netherlands to set up the FairWater Foundation https://www.fairwater.org/. Despite his scientific training, he was, in many ways, an engineer at heart.  He loved technology and the intricacies of engineering design. Among his numerous inventions were the Kisii Water Filter, the Afripump, the Water Donkey, the Beers Piston, Handpump Leasing, the Ribbon-and-Bead Pump (an improved version of the rope pump), and, of course, the Blue Pump and Blue Zones.

On one memorable occasion he jumped onto the table in a Nairobi bar and sat on a small plastic stool with a hole cut in it. “Look, the EasyShit!” he announced. That particular sanitation invention didn’t take off but actually made a lot of sense for the old and infirm. I had the pleasure of meeting him on many occasions to put the world to rights and ‘imagineer’ all sorts of solutions from bizarre soap alternatives to a submersible pump design based on the capillary action of plants (that one didn’t take off either!).

He was never afraid to have a daft idea. It would be much worse to have none at all. When he was diagnosed with cancer, Paul remained as positive as ever. Even when his leg was amputated in 2015, he was more focused on tinkering to make improvements to his prosthetic leg than feeling sorry for himself. His mobility was affected, but not his passion, nor his ability to post controversial contributions to the RWSN D-group!

I spoke to him shortly before his death and he told me of how his own story evolved. When he first worked in Africa 35 years ago, he would see a broken handpump and think ‘that’s a shame, a broken pump’. It took him many years to look at a broken pump and see the bigger picture behind it of suffering, dependency, self-interest and corruption. He was frustrated that many charitable endeavours were more focused on giving money to feel good than to do actual good.

His was a call for us to wake up and connect the dots: to look beyond technology, to the systems and behaviours that create dependency; to not be afraid to discard them and develop new blueprints for truly sustainable water services. He didn’t have all the answers, but he certainly provided some, and he never gave up searching for more.

The day before he passed away, he sent me a message: “We live and learn, a fascinating growing process, essential in life… Maybe that is why I hate so much if things do not develop, it is directly opposing the roots of life; innovation should always be there!”

Paul brought much colour to my life, as well as the many, many people in the communities he served over decades. I will miss him greatly and I am privileged to have called him a friend.

He was a keen flyer and had many tales of bush flying in Africa; I like to think he is now soaring high above us through the ‘blue zone’.

Pete Harvey

P.S. For those of you who may be interested, in future the Bluepump will continue to be manufactured and promoted on a non-profit basis by Join the Pipe https://join-the-pipe.org/eng/, the first social network of tap-water drinkers.

Photo: Paul at home in Amsterdam, 2018 (P. Harvey)

In Memoriam: Mansoor Ali

Mansoor Ali, an active early member of the Hanpump Technology Network (HTN), recently passed on.

Main Photo: 5 June, 2003: HTN Meeting at Durban – Vishwas, Raj, Mansoor (R K Daw)

by Raj Kumar Daw

Summer, 1973, Groundwater Surveys & Development Agency – GSDA, Pune had just been created and was acquiring its drilling rigs. The founding Director of GSDA, Dr. Venkataraman, constantly raided the NGOs for whatever he could get. He sent me word that he was coming to Vadala. I was trying my first attempt at rehabilitating an abandoned bore well adjacent to our workshop. The work had gone well. Dr. Venkataraman arrived, passing through Geological Investigation Team, Ahmednagar, headed at that time by Sarma Nidamarthy. Sarma had sent two of his staff with Dr. Venkataraman. Gautam and Mansoor.

That was the first time I met Mansoor.

Continue reading “In Memoriam: Mansoor Ali”

In Memoriam: Ken McLeod – India Mark II development lead

en McLeod, who died of cancer in Cairns, Australia, on January 23rd at the age of 88, was recruited by Unicef to support India’s village water supply programme from 1974-1978, and played a pivotal role in the development of the India MK II hand pump.

by Rupert Talbot (former UNICEF and past Chair of HTN/RWSN)

Remembering Ken

Ken McLeod, who died of cancer in Cairns, Australia, on January 23rd at the age of 88, was recruited by Unicef to support India’s village water supply programme from 1974-1978, and played a pivotal role in the development of the India MK II hand pump.

The Government of India’s fourth, five year development plan (1969-1974) envisaged the ambitious goal of providing drinking water in the hard rock, drought prone regions of the country, using innovative down-the-hole-hammer drilling and deep well hand pump technology. Drill rigs were to be imported by Unicef and locally made, cast iron hand pumps, supplied and maintained by Government. In 1974, at the end of the plan period, hand pump surveys concluded that 75% of some 40,000 installations were not working. The viability of drilling and hand pump technology was in question and there was the real prospect of UNICEF, the Government of India’s main partner, withdrawing support. The programme was in serious crisis.

Ken McLeod, his 1942 Jeep, and Myra who designed the first India MK II hand pump poster, New Delhi, 1976 (Photo: Rupert Talbot)

Water well drilling was virgin territory for Unicef in the early 1970s and Unicef’s Executive Board had been divided over the decision to invest in such costly technology in the first place. It was now faced with the hard option of either scrapping the programme or keeping faith. It was a close run thing. Fortunately, the ‘pro’ lobby won with the eminently wise decision to halt the supply of drill rigs until the hand pump problem was fixed. Which is where Ken McLeod comes in.

Ken was a pragmatic, no–nonsense, straight talking, tell-it-as-it-is Australian with a diverse engineering background which ranged from marine and civil engineering to blast hole and water well drilling with down-the-hole-hammers. He had an innate sense of what would probably work and what wouldn’t. Obstinacy was also a hallmark. A serious asset as it turned out. Once he had made up his mind it was difficult to persuade him otherwise. And he had a droll sense of humour. His repertoire of stories and anecdotes are legendary within the water well fraternity. It would seem that seriousness of purpose combined with good humour are prerequisites for successful development enterprises. Ken had both these qualities in spades.

Over the course of the next 4 years it fell to Ken to identify, coordinate, argue with and cajole, myriad organisations and individuals to develop what became known as the India MK II hand pump. This was an extraordinarily complex, collaborative venture, involving pioneering NGOs in Maharashtra, birth place of the fabricated steel Jalna, Jalvad and Sholapur pumps, spearheaded by Raj Kumar Daw and Oscar Carlson (names participants in the RWSN Sustainable Groundwater Development Forum will be familiar with); WHO, who were independently trying to develop their own cast iron ‘Bangalore Pump’; The Government of India, whose programme was in dire straits and who were being prevailed upon by the country-wide hand pump industry to continue with the supply of their cast iron products (‘junk pumps,’ in McLeod Speak); and an engineering enterprise, Richardson and Cruddas, a Government of India undertaking tasked with making prototype and then production pumps. It took a McLeod to handle all of that.

Ken McLeod, Arun Mudgal (Richardson and Cruddas) and Rupert Talbot, MK II test area, Coimbatore, 1975. A ‘what to do ?’ moment after experimental cylinders had failed. (Photo: Rupert Talbot)

It is getting on for 50 years since it was eventually agreed by all parties that the Sholapur pump would form the basis of a new design and we were able to make and test the first dozen prototypes under the deep water table conditions of Coimbatore, Southern India. The fact that the India MK II then went successfully into mass production was largely due to Ken’s clarity of vision, direction, smart technical choices and perseverence.

I spoke with Ken for the last time two weeks before he died. We talked of those heady days of trying to get the MK II programme off the ground, of the internal arguments, external battles and technical problem solving in the field and in the factory.

His voice was strong and his mind as clear as a bell as he recalled people, places and events in great detail and he spoke warmly of those free spirits with their out of the box thinking who strove to make better hand pumps.

He was amazed to learn that there are now several million MK IIs in India alone and that it is exported to 40 or more countries. But hugely disappointed that the third party quality assurance procedures set up in his day and honed over the years to become the corner stone of the MK II programme under Ken Gray, had been allowed to slide back and that MK II look-a-like ‘junk pumps’ are being exported from India to Africa. That, we agreed, is a great tragedy.

There were many brilliant, dedicated people involved in the development of the India MK II. Ken never claimed any credit for it himself, but we all know who led the charge. It wouldn’t have happened without him. He was the right man in the right place at the right time. It needed his force of personality, tough and uncompromising ways, solid understanding of technical issues and absolute determination to get the job done in the face of industrial strength, bureaucratic wranglings. Aussie grit personified.

After Unicef, Ken McLeod worked with Shaul Arlossoroff and his UNDP-World Bank Hand Pumps Project, initially based in Nairobi then out of Australia, spending much of his time in China where I have no doubt he brought the same skills and energy to bear as he did in India.

Pragmatic and stoic to the very end he told me he hadn’t got long and was resigned to being on the ‘home stretch’ as he called it.

No funeral for Ken. No grave, no head stone, no epitaph. He wanted none of that. Instead, he has the lasting legacy of the India Mark II hand pump itself. Millions of them in fact.

Kenneth Robert McLeod, 1932 – 2020

RIP

Rupert Talbot
RWSN
26/1/20

Opportunity to publish: handpumps in drinking water services

(photo: (C) Skat Consulting Ltd.)

Dear Colleagues,

It has recently been suggested that an up-to-date review of the issues around handpumps in drinking water services be undertaken.  This would be in the form of a book, which supersedes the documents published in the 1980s including Arlosoroff’s “Community water supply: the handpump option” and IRC’s Technical Papers 10 and 25. 

The new book would not be a direct update, since those documents were published in the UN Water Decade at a time of large-scale laboratory- and field-testing of handpumps and other initiatives which have not been matched in intensity since that time.  However there has been much experience and reflection as well as some research and evaluation in the intervening years which now needs to be brought together in one place. 

I envisage a book which places handpump services in the wider context of the SDGs, the human right to water, self-supply, community-based maintenance, financing considerations, emerging management models, and transitions from handpumped point water sources to (for example) solar pumped networked services.  The book would bring together in roughly equal measures natural sciences and engineering on one hand, with issues around management and financing, social aspects and institutional arrangements on the other. 

The book would be primarily addressed to organisations and individuals involved in planning, financing, implementing and supporting rural water programming – a readership which needs a broad but reasonably detailed overview of the subject.  The messages for policy-makers and higher-level decision-makers will need to be distilled from the book, in shorter form.  Likewise the book would not attempt to be a detailed technical document; indeed it is likely that only two chapters out of the 12 which will be included would focus on handpump technology per se.

Given the wide range of aspects to be covered, I envisage the need for a good deal of co-authorship and peer review.  A publisher has already shown keen interest, and I would be optimistic that funds could be raised to enable open access to the final publication. 

This message – the first on the matter – therefore invites your response to three questions: (1) do you think such a publication would be a useful contribution to current attempts to bring safe and sustainable drinking water services to all? (2) Would you like to be kept informed as to progress in the drafting of the book? (3) Would you be interested in participating as a co-author or peer-reviewer (if so, please send me a short statement outlining your area of interest and expertise). 

Finally, I am well aware that there are some strong opinions and loud voices in the community of those interested in handpumps; it will be part of my lead-author/editor role to try to present evidence-based and balanced analysis while minimising opinionated and biased views.  I am especially keen to find contributors and reviewers who are well-experienced in implementing handpump programmes but who are not vocal in the online discussion groups. 

I look forward to hearing from you by writing to my personal email address (below) with your initial answers to the questions above, and of course any other views you may have on the matter.

Assuming the idea meets with some approval from those of you who read the correspondence on this discussion group, I will put together a draft list of contents and start to identify potential co-authors and reviewers.  So please watch this space for further news!

Best wishes,

Richard Carter
richard ^at^ richard-carter.org
[www.richard-carter.org]

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.

In Memoriam: Abdul Motaleb

It is with great sadness that we have been informed that Mr Abdul Motaleb (61) passed away in the night of 30 April 2017.

Motaleb had over 36 years experience in the Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh and was widely liked and respected figure in the Bangladesh WASH sector.

photo: Abdul Motaleb and Sean Furey, in Dhaka, February 2017 (photo: Md. Nurul Osman – with thanks)

It is with great sadness that we have been informed that Mr Abdul Motaleb (61) passed away in the night of 30 April 2017.

Motaleb had over 36 years experience in the Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh and was widely liked and respected figure in the Bangladesh WASH sector.

He graduated from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Dhaka in 1979 with a BSc in Water Resource Engineering and later in his career went on to gain a MSc in Sanitatary Engineering at the International Institute for Infrastructure, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE) Delft, the Netherlands.

During his long career he worked for M/S Associated Consulting Engineers, the Department for Public Health Engineering (DPHE), King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, World Bank/UNDP, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), and most recently the World Bank Group and as a freelance consultant.

Among his many works and achievements, it was on the topic of handpumps where he seemed to get most pleasure – from his involvement in the development of the Tara to his expertise with the Jibon Deepset and the No. 6 – handpumps on which tens of millions of people today in Bangladesh depend every day. He was a long standing member of HTN, later RWSN, and was an active contributor to the RWSN Groundwater group.

Abdul Motaleb inspecting a HYSAWA handpump installation near Khulna, SW Bangladesh, February 2017 (Photo: Sean Furey)

I had the pleasure of working with Motaleb from January onwards this year on an end-phase review assignment for SDC and we spent 10 intense days together in south-western coastal Bangladesh, with the staff of the HYSAWA Trust Fund.  He was utterly charming and humble, with a deep well of knowledge and experience. I could not have wished for a better colleague and in a very short space of time we became firm friends.

He will be greatly missed.

Sean Furey, RWSN Secretariat / Skat

 

Selected Publications

  • Technical Paper on Monitoring and Regeneration of Production Wells in Bangladesh. A paper presented by Abdul Motaleb (DPHE) and Drs. G.J.deWit (IWACO) at the seminar for Civil Engineering Division at the 34th Annual Convention of the Institute of Engineers, 1990 Dhaka Bangladesh.
  • Monitoring the Tara pump: An assessment of Functioning, Social Acceptability and O&M system. A report published by UNDP/World Bank Water and Sanitation Program RWSG-SA Dhaka
  • Quarterly Notes on Danida funded DPHE Handpump Training and Monitoring Program based on project implementation experiences published by UNDP/World Bank Water and Sanitation Program RWSG-SA Dhaka. Altogether 14 (Fourteen) HTMP Notes were prepared during 1993-1997.
  • Technology Development Never Stops-A story of Jibon Deepset Handpump Tubewell in Bangladesh. Paper presented in HTN Workshop on Civil Society and Government Partnership in Rural Water Supply, Hyderabad, India, 2000.
  • Village Organizations become Development Partners. Paper presented in 26th WEDC Conference, Dhaka 2000.
  • SODIS – An Arsenic Mitigation Option. Paper published in 26th WEDC Conference, Dhaka-2000.
  • SORAS –  A Simple Arsenic Removal Process. Paper published in 26th WEDC Conference, Dhaka-2000.
  • Total Sanitation Approach and Practice. A case study in Watsan Partnership Project (WPP). This paper presented in 19 AGUASAN WORKSHOP 2003 on This shit drama-Are there ways out? held in Switzerland organized by SKAT during June 23-27, 2003.
  • Arsenic Mitigation: Action Research Findings based on project implementation experiences in Watsan Partnership Project and published by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Bangladesh in June 2003.

 

 

 

Sharing is Caring: The Emerging Framework for Sharing Water Point Data

Webinar – February 5, 2015 – 11:00am  EST

On behalf of the Water Point Data Exchange, we invite you to join a one hour webinar on Thursday, February 5 at 11:00am EST. This webinar will provide an exciting update on sector-wide efforts to support  the sharing of water point data across diverse stakeholders.

This webinar will provide an exciting update on sector-wide efforts to support the sharing of water point data across diverse stakeholders. Harmonizing this data has the potential to provide unprecedented opportunities for learning from the past and managing water services well into the future.

Starting with a background on the objectives of this initiative, the webinar will also provide an update on the progress made to date and the next steps in the development of the Water Point Data Exchange. Participants will be introduced to the current draft standard and also learn how they can to help shape the standard as this work moves forward.

 Click here to register.

 

Brian Banks

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Global Environment & Technology Foundation

2900 S. Quincy Street, Suite 375

Arlington, VA 22206

Phone: (703) 379-2713

Email: Brian.Banks@getf.org

Handpump standardisation in sub-Saharan Africa: Seeking a champion

by Jess MacArthur, IDE Bangladesh

Download now
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”

4 lessons about handpump sustainability in Ghana

By Sara Marks, Senior Scientist at Sandec / Eawag

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Water users in Ghana (photo: S. Marks)

In 2012 we learned the exciting news that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for drinking water access had been met, nearly 3 years ahead of schedule. Yet an important question still looms large: What will it take to ensure that those who have gained access continue to enjoy their water services well into the future? And how will sustainable water services be extended to the remaining unserved?

Continue reading “4 lessons about handpump sustainability in Ghana”