The BlueZone Maintenance Model (BMM)
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
This allows the users of the BluePump to:
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.
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.
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 advantages of the BlueZone Maintenance Model are:
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.
The HandPump Caretaker (HPC)
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).
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.