Have you ever wondered how we get water to the most remote and climate vulnerable areas?
As our climate changes, life is becoming even harder for people who already struggle to get clean water. Weather is becoming more extreme. More frequent and extreme flooding is polluting fragile water sources and longer droughts are drying up springs.
People need a reliable supply of water that keeps pumping through flood, drought and natural disaster. That’s where technology, tools and training comes in.
Our best defence against the effects of climate change that cause water uncertainty is to use robust systems, and to work with local communities to ensure they have the tools and training to maintain them.
Watch our technology series below to see how we're working with communities to build reliable and sustainable solutions.
Much of our water is found in the ground, beneath the Earth's surface in the soil. But ground water is not available everywhere. When water is deep below the ground or where there is hard rock to drill through, we use boreholes. A borehole can reach down to 100 metres or more. Once water is found, pipes are installed, allowing water to be pumped by hand or fed up into large tanks. Find out more in the video:
Gravity fed water systems
We tend to use this system in hilly, rural areas where people usually have to carry water over steep terrain. Water is found from a high point, often a natural spring. A reservoir tank is built to hold the water and pipes carry the water downhill to the community. Using the natural force of gravity removes the need for expensive electrical pumps, making this a cost-effective innovation. We often engage the entire community to help protect the pipes, as seen in the video:
Water kiosks are often installed in the heart of the community, run by attendants to provide a convenient and accessible source of clean water. The kiosks sometimes also sell items such as soap and washing powder. See them in action:
Our most low tech and low cost water solution is a tippy tap. We encourage the use of these where more advanced systems are not yet in place. Easy to build with everyday objects including sticks, bottles, string and wood, these enable people to wash their hands and help stop the spread of disease. Watch how to make a tippy tap:
Much like an ATM that dispenses cash, a water ATM enables communities to use a prepaid card to dispense clean water. Water ATMs are automated versions of water kiosks, which don't require attendants. This technology provides a sustainable source of clean water 24 hours a day:
Using panels that transform sunlight into electricity, we can harness this natural and renewable energy to power electrical pumps to extract water from deep in the ground. Solar pumps have low running costs and are great for the environment:
WaterAid works with local partners to assess the most appropriate technology to provide water in a particular area.
We always look for technology that’s easy to transport, even to the world’s most remote communities. It has to be simple to maintain and made from materials that are readily available in local markets, along with any spare parts.
Our technical solutions won’t involve complex maintenance or expensive components or chemicals. And with the training we provide, they’ll be easy for communities to use and maintain, long after our partners have completed their work.
The technical bit
If you want to find out more about our systems and how they technically work, take a look at our resources on our policy and practice website:
Contact our technical enquiry service
Got a question about the technology we use? Want to tell us about a new water, sanitation or hygiene product you’ve developed?
Our technical enquiry service is run by engineering specialists and is available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Just email [email protected] and they’ll be in touch as soon as possible.
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