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Pump Minders Making a Difference PDF Print E-mail

Ernest Sello is 38 and lives with his wife and child in a corrugated iron house in a poor, peri-urban community about an hour west of Johannesburg.  His neighbor, Rasta Joe, is 41 and lives with his girlfriend.  Recently both men became "Pump Minders," trained and equipped by Water For All to handle minor repairs of their community’s new Sun Pump.

"While our installation procedures and the quality of our pumps are the best form of preventive maintenance, leaky taps and other minor problems do need attention given the wear and tear from large numbers of people visiting the pump each day," said Jill Rademacher, president of Water For All.  "The Pump Minders programme helps ensure that schools and communities have a safe and efficient water supply, and helps promote community pride and ownership of the pumps as well."  The programme has been so successful in South Africa that Water For All has decided to expand the programme to a number of its core countries.



Water For All installation foreman Collen Dube (middle) shows Pump Minders Rasta Joe and Ernest Sello how to repair the Sun Pump’s tap.

At most of the sites, especially the schools, the Pump Minders are school caretakers, teachers, water committee members, or local handy men.  Like all Pump Minders, Ernest and Rasta Joe were nominated by community members prior to the installation of the Sun Pump. Both men were known for their willingness to perform odd jobs around the area. Plus, Rasta Joe has plumbing experience, and Ernest knows about welding.  

In South Africa, Collen Dube, Water For All’s installation foreman, explains which plumbing parts might need attention in the future and how to make the simple repairs.  Collen reports that, "The program is going well. The Pump Minders have been willing to learn and observe closely what to do."  Under his supervision, Ernest and Rasta Joe did much of the plumbing work for the Sun Pump.  

Each community receives a "Pump Minders kit," with enough tools and parts to replace a tap, leaking pipe or connector – the most common problems to occur.  The kits are complete with, plumbers’ wrenches, two adjustable shifting spanners, a compression fitting, replacement tap, nuts and bolts, and plumbers tape. A third person -- a ward councilor or other community leader, or the principal at the school – is responsible for keeping the kit and contacting the Pump Minders if there is a problem with the pump.  


Like their neighbors, Ernest and Rasta Joe had obtained water from the community’s municipal water supply, which is unreliable, not centrally located, and in poor condition.  The new Water For All Sun Pump is powered by three solar panels and produces approximately 2,100 litres of clean drinking water per hour, which provides 13- 15,000 litres per day depending on the time of year.  The Sun Pump replaced a broken hand pump and given the strong yield of the borehole, a 5,000 litre tank was donated so that excess water can be captured for use in the evening hours.

"This pump has made life so much better," said Ernest.  "We can count on having clean water to drink, and cook and clean with.  And we know how to fix a leak if we need to, so that water doesn’t go to waste."