Mono-pump in Malawi

The mono pump is the simplest type of pump which pumps water up from a water bore.  Why a mono pump and why water bore instead of a well? It's a good question.

Let's look at a simple water bore we put into a remote village in Malawi.  Here you can see from the images a village with typical mud brick huts, no sanitation, and no running water.  Electricity is basically unheard of and cooking is done on an open fire.  Sounds a lot like camping huh? 

Except here are the major problems.  The nearest hospital is miles away along a dirt road - that is if you have a car.  Latrines are basically holes in the ground dug at the same level as water wells.  When the monsoon hits, the water levels of the underground streams rise  - which is good for the wells.  But as the latrines are dug to the same level, there is almost always cross contamination.  This is where the deadly Cholera comes into play.  Cholera is a water-borne disease caused by human waste entering the water system.  Cholera is deadly.

Villages have an option to walk to the nearest water bore  - 4 hours walk away (not many people have a car) - or pull water from the well - which may or may not be contaminated.  Basically, they rely on a government official to test the water.  And the said government official might not be coming their way for months.  It's a vicious cycle.

The villagers outside the community hall

A typical dwelling, the mud bricks keeps the inside as cool as possible.  There are no western comforts, no inside sanitation, electricity or running water.  Life is simple.

An overview of the village.  Villagers are gathered to hear to the outcome of whether they will get a water bore

So why do we install a water bore as opposed to a well?  Typically latrines and wells are dug in near proximity to each other - both reaching the same underground water table. This is one of the reasons why we do not dig wells.  We install bores that go up to 200-250 ft below ground with the first 100-150 ft of the pipe encased in steel.  This reduces the possibility of cholera-infected water entering the water source.  In addition, we ensure that we dig the bores at least 350ft away from any latrines.

We use a mono-pump as this uses no electricity and also has less "things that can go wrong with it".  Pumps are a community asset and out in the open.  These villagers no longer need to travel a 4-hour walk, with their plastic buckets to obtain water.