Solar water installation – the ’what’, ’how’ and ’why’ of our upcoming project

There are various solutions that one could adapt to provide water and sanitation to an off grid remote location – from water hand pumps to a fossil fuel installation. In our this blog we provide reasoning behind our choice to use a solar power installation to ensure over 1000 people from our partner school and village in Charmen have all-year-round access to clean water and improved hygiene.

How will our solar pumping water system work?

Our solar water system is powered by photo-voltaic modules (solar panels), which convert the sun’s energy into electricity. The electricity then powers a submersible pump to pump water from a well up to two 3000 litre tanks, which stand on a raised tower. From the tanks the water will flow to three taps– one for the community and two for the school.  

This solution ensures a clean regulated water supply for all purposes throughout the year.

The diagram shows the configuration of a typical solar pumping system.

Our solar-powered water installation will produce approximately thirty five (35) cubic metres of water per day. This will ensure sufficient supply that meets the World Health Organization (WHO) basic water requirement standard “to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise”.  

Additionally, hand washing facilities will be installed at Charmen school benefiting almost 900 children. Once these are in place, we will support the local community with awareness campaigns on the importance of handwashing and hygiene to support better hygiene practices. Both are crucial to the development of good hand hygiene practice as a lifelong skill among key populations.  

Why Solar Installation?

During our participatory analysis and consultation exercise, several solutions were discussed with the community, including a new open source well, a diesel-generated water pump, and a hand pump. Each was considered against criteria linked to sustainability, replicability, effectiveness, efficiency, making a difference to people’s lives, value for money and environmental impact.

Solar installation offers the most competitive solution in terms of value for money and continued flow of benefits over a longer period.  In comparison to other solutions, they are easy to install even in remote or isolated areas, such as the one we support; are easier to implement by local communities and are characterised by longevity and relatively low maintenance costs.  The components of a solar power well can be easily swapped, upgraded or scaled for rising water demands. It was the only solution that offered us the potential of scaling up to include more taps, sanitation and irrigated agriculture in the future.

In comparison to hand pumps or open wells, they are non-labour intensive when it comes to extracting water. Ensuring as little physical labour goes into extracting water was particularly important to us, as it is mainly children and women that bear the responsibility of fetching water.

Additionally, solar pumping uses a natural resource – solar energy – to extract water. Therefore, it offers an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional, electricity and diesel-powered pumping systems.  Our method is also resilient and ‘climate-proofed’, which means it can withstand the threats of the climate crisis, such as more commonly occurring droughts and weather variability.   

As summarised by the recent study conducted by The World Bank: 

“Solar Water Pumping has proven to be operationally, financially, and environmentally sustainable (…) these panels last around 25 years, requiring little maintenance throughout this time”.

To find out more about our project, please visit: https://behatifoundation.org/water-and-covid-19-appeal

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