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Multi-Awarded Bacolod NGO Installs Ram Pumps in Afghanistan Hills

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Multi-awarded non-government organization Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) has successfully installed three indigenous ram pumps in the Kunduz River Basin, north of Afghanistan, from September to October this year.

BY KARL G. OMBION
Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 44, December 9-15, 2007

BACOLOD CITY — Multi-awarded non-government organization Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) has successfully installed three indigenous ram pumps in the Kunduz River Basin, north of Afghanistan, from September to October this year.

Auke Idzenga, a ship engineer by profession is AIDFI’s head of Appropriate Technology Department. He has lived in Negros for the last decade and a half. He said the ram pumps they had installed in Afghanistan will be very beneficial to the local farmers because of water scarcity in the country.

Idzenga noted that in Afghanistan, most agricultural lands are rain-fed and, when not cultivated, look like deserts. He added that though the soil in that country remains very fertile, its forest cover is barely two percent left, and the water tables are dropping fast.

Idzenga said their project in Afghanistan was contracted out by an international development organization, Mercy Corps’ Catchment Development Program, which has field offices and nurseries in Afghanistan.

Mercy Corps’ manager Paul Smith, Idzenga recounted, had been looking for water on the hills but never found any. He later discovered that there is plenty below on the river basin, but the question was how to bring it uphill where farmers are also numerous and where it could be put to good use for tree-planting.

Smith was eventually drawn to AIDFI’s ram pump after having discovered its durability, its relative cheapness, and the availability of spare parts in Afghanistan.

After a series of communications exploring ways to install the project at the cheapest possible way, AIDFI finally signed a contract with Mercy Corps for the installation of three ram pumps and the training of Afghan farmers supported by the organization that would use and maintain the pumps for irrigating the hills to grow nuts and fruits.

Idzenga admitted though that the whole process and circumstances of making the decision to sign the contract was difficult given the potential problems, including security.

“The installations can produce more water than what was agreed on and expected,” Idzenga said. “At the highest site, the water is pushed up to 145 meters at a volume of 5,200 liters per day — more than enough to [irrigate] the planted trees on five hectares of land.”

Idzenga said that Mercy Corps is mulling more installations of ram pump technology in Afghanistan because of its potentials.

Mercy Corps has been implementing programs in Afghanistan with funding assistance from the European Union.

AIDFI has pioneered the invention and development of ram pump. Today, the technology has brought water to a number of mountain farming villages in Negros island, some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.

AIDFI’s ram pump is a product of indigenous technology that is powered by the water’s natural force to its target elevation without need for much maintenance or without any crude fuel costs.

Ram pump can use the energy and a given volume of water flowing in the rivers to lift a small fraction of water over 100 meters vertically or more, whenever it is needed.

Idzenga admitted that the ram pump technology has been in existence more than 300 years ago. But AIDFI has enhanced the technology using cheap and locally available materials, such as door hinges, to connect the pipes to allow the transfer of water up to 200 meters, he said.

AIDFI’s ram pump was given an award by Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy in London in June this year, as one of 10 renewable energy pioneers all over the world. (Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore presented the award to Idzenga representing AIDFI, together with a cash prize of GBP10,000.

Ram pump is AIDFI’s flagship project. AIDFI also has a dozen or so appropriate technologies for agricultural use, among them the bush pump, lemon grass distilling plant, biogas plant, rice hull stove, solar powered panel. Soon it will begin its project on windmills, another pioneering work in the field of renewal energy.

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Written by afghandevnews

December 12, 2007 at 12:49 am

Posted in Aid, Development

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