Maintenance
 

The BlueZone Maintenance Model (BMM)
To avoid that also the BluePump would have such maintenance problems, we asked the communities and local pump mechanics all over Africa what THEY would suggest as the best maintenance model for the BluePump.

With their valuable input, we developed and introduced the "BlueZone" O&M system,which is now considered by the communities and pumps mechanics that have experienced this, to be the most sustainable way to maintain rural handpumps in Africa.


 

The BlueZone Approach
The basic idea of a BlueZone is that the BluePumps are grouped together, in a zone with many BluePumps, with a central back-up for maintenance.

This allows the users of the BluePump to:
1.  Have an uninterrupted service, 24/7 clean water;
2.  Pay as less as possible for their water supply;
3.  Have once a year, a check-up of the condition of the BluePump.
4.  Rent or "lease" the pump for a fair price.
5.  Being part of an effective monitoring system.

In the rare case of a problem, the community will always know where to go for a quick repair of the BluePump. This may sound obvious, but reality shows that in most cases with the so-called "standard" handpumps in Africa this is not the case.

With BluePumps in a BlueZone, such a "Rapid Response" (RR) is possible because all the BluePumps in a BlueZone are interconnected through management and monitoring by a Regional Organization, preferably the District Water Department (DWD).

The "Standard Fee" to join such a BlueZone should not be more than about US$ 100,- to US$ 150,- per year, which includes 1 free check-up of the BluePump per year. The cost will depend on travel time in that area, which takes up most of the cost.

We strongly advise that the local Government DWD (if possible) takes the lead in this because, in the end, this will facilitate monitoring and building of institutional memory and the Community will always know where to go in case of a problem with the pump.

We do NOT recommend that the community has a contract with a private company. Such a direct contract with a private company or NGO for a Community Service may raise issues in the long run, for instance, when this O&M Company will stop its activities for whatever reason, it remains unclear who will take up again the repair service. This means that the O&M needs to be re-organized all over again. This has happened many times in the past with "NGO Arrangements" that supported Communities, but when these NGOs lose their funding, this whole "nice" arrangement falls apart...

In case of a problem in between this Check-Up, the Pump Care Taker will contact the DWD and ask for a repair that has to be paid at an additional cost. After the DWD has received the standard fee for an additional visit or repair of about US$ 50,-, the DWD takes action and will send the Regional Pump Mechanic (RPM) to look into the problem.

After the RPM has solved the problem, he presents his invoice to the DWD and is paid for his work. This is paid by the DWD from the accumulated budget of all contributions of all BluePumps is this system.

Every RPM has a designated area in which he installs and maintains the BluePumps. So he knows the community and the community knows him. This builds trust, which is important for a good co-operation.

In the ideal BlueZone, the communities can request BluePumps (in new boreholes or in an old borehole to replace broken pumps) directly at the DWD. They have BluePumps in stock (donated by donors or the Central Government) and can make a simple contract with the representative of that community. The community engages itself to assist with the installation and must pay for the cost of the installation, which is normally less than US$ 500,- to the DWD, who sub-contract this out to the RPM.

The yearly collection of the yearly lease amount, as well as the additional fixed cost of occasional repairs, is done by the pump caretaker, with the support of the local water committee.

Again, it is strongly recommended that the local Government will have the leading role to secure the basic water service in their area. They take action; from the installation of the pump to the maintenance of the pump, to keep a sufficient stock of pumps & spare parts and to collect the payments of the community, in the way they think it's best.

The DWD can buy the spare parts directly at the Country Representative for the BluePump, or contact BluePump in the Netherlands (info-add-bluepump.com) for additional assistance when needed.

The advantages of the BlueZone Maintenance Model are:
1.) Monitoring is taken care of by the DWD (which pump works and which pump doesn't);
2.) Direct feedback on the quality of the service is secured;
3.) People know right from the start of the water project where to go in case of problems;
4.) NGOs and others who want to do a water project also know where to go;
5. The DWD can indicate where are the most urgent locations;
6.) Funding is used in an optimal way;
7.) The DWD can keep a stock of all spare parts needed;
8.) The DWD can also keep a stock of pumps as well for direct support;
9.) When the community does not pay, the DWD can install the pump elsewhere.

We know that many NGOs do not like or trust or don't like to work with Local Governments in Africa for various reasons. Indeed, there have been challenges in the past.

But we strongly believe (backed up by many examples) that putting the Local Government in the lead of planning, installation, and maintenance, is the best way in the end to have sustainable development.

They will always be there, they will build up the regional institutional memory, while NGOs and the private sector have a risk and tendency to disappear after a while.

The HandPump Caretaker (HPC)
The day to day operation of the BluePump in a BlueZone is best to be supervised by only 1 person. Often this person (the HPC) is selected in the community by a Water Committee.

Please note: that this person is NOT supposed to repair the pump, he/she is just responsible for the daily operation, such as opening and closing the pump when needed, organizing the fetching of water in case of high demand, keeping livestock away from the pump and cleaning of the area around the pump.

Sometimes the HPC is paid (about US$ 10,- to max 20 US$ per month) for this activity, this is up to the community, or up to the user group of the pump to decide.

When people should pay a fixed amount per bucket, best is that they pay directly to the HPC. In that case, we advise using "BlueCoins" to pay for a bucket of 20 liters of water. BlueCoins make payment easier and can be obtained with the BluePump country dealer. 

The Regional Pump Mechanic (RPM).
The Regional Pump Mechanic assists communities in the unlikely case of a Murphy problem. They are trained and supported by the BluePump Country representative as well as by the Local Districts Water officer (LDW).

In case of a problem with the pump, the pump Caretaker will aks the RPM or the DWO for assistance, whatever is easier. After fixing the problem, the RPM will receive a fixed contribution from the pump caretaker and report back to the DWO on the kind of the problem. The DWO will pay the rest of the bill and his travel expenses.

A yearly check-up of all BluePumps provides monitoring and secures the water supply. With many BluePumps in a BlueZone, communities profit from the upscaling of this repair service and pay about 50,- US$ per pump per year to "lease" the BluePump.

.