Water lifting devices enable the lifting of water from a lower level to a higher one.
Water is essential for the growth of agricultural crops. In many regions, however, there is insufficient rainfall available to produce a crop with decent yields, and irrigation systems are needed to provide the crop’s need for water. Also, provision of drinking water is fundamental for both human beings and livestock, but its transport from the water source to final destination is often required. Water sources can either be underground water reservoirs, open natural water bodies (rivers and lakes), or artificial water bodies (canals).The use of water lifting devices is often crucial to transport water from the water source to the field or to the consumer.
Water lifting devices can be divided into two groups: (i) devices that are run by muscle power of humans or domestic animals and (ii) devices mechanized by lift irrigation techniques. Devices which are run by muscle power are often very time-consuming in real terms, due to their low productivity. Mechanized lift irrigation techniques, while more efficient, need to be adapted to the local conditions and to the different demand needs. To establish and implement water lifting devices, local people need to be trained on how to use these technologies in a water-efficient way, as well as how to maintain these technologies in the long run.
Local hydrogeological, economic and social conditions, as well as national strategies, e. g. the strategy to standardize equipment, must be considered in selecting the technology which best fits local conditions. In the end, it is the individual farmer or the benefitting association who should make the final choice. Advisors working with the local community need to explain all the available options that are technically feasible.
Water lifting technologies free the farmers from the limitations of inadequate rain during dry seasons, thus raising their capacity to grow crops up to two or three plantings annually. Thus, additional income possibilities for the subsistence economy of the households are provided.
In addition, water efficient technologies such as pumps can bring an improvement to the situation of womenby increasing household food security and nutritional variety, as well as decreasing the amount of labor required to obtain water. Most pumps can easily be operated by women.
When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of various water lifting devices, it is important to focus on technical feasibility and sustainability in the context of the respective target region and target group.
Costs: investment and operation
A realistic assessment of cost effectiveness is not easy, particularly as many of the parameters required for such an analysis are frequently uncertain or variable. Also, many cost and benefit factors do not readily lend themselves to financial quantification: e.g. reliability, availability of spare parts, and maintenance skills.
The initial investment cost depends on the device. The cost range for a treadle pump, including the tube well, is US$ 100-200 (depending on installation depth and drilling method). A ram pump, without pipes and hoses, is around US$ 150 (depending on the quality of the material and the size of the manufactured pump).
Ram Pump, GIZ Tajikistan 2010
Mechanical/alternative lifting devices, which are run without a power supply, become more attractive as the price of gasoline and electricity continues to increase, as the increased price of power reduces the profit margin of irrigation. The ram pump, which has been successfully implemented in remote areas in Central Asia where electrical supply is not sufficient, could also become a more attractive option to farmers in other regions.
Role in climate change
In the light of climate change and the resulting less reliable rainfall, mechanized lift irrigation techniques are becoming increasingly important to meet the demand for a more constant irrigation pattern. These techniques enable higher and more reliable yields. Increased annual yields and diversification of crops reduce risk.
Project example: Tajikistan
The GIZ project “Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Gorno-Badakhshan” in the Pamir region of Tajikistan works together with local craftsmen and has developed three types of pump technologies (swim, ram and treadle pumps). Local craftsmen are trained to produce and to install these pumps. A retail cooperative was founded, with support of the GIZ project
to produce quality materials to be used in the production of the pumps. This cooperative promotes the metal and wood productions of local craftsmen by up-scaling the value chain of water efficient technologies, i.e. pumps. Green products, such as energy efficient pump technologies, add a new dimension to the increasing importance of the value chain debate. Once local craftsmen are have mastered the production of the pumps, they sell them via existing market mechanisms and generate income.
The water lifting technologies developed and implemented by GIZ in Tajikistan free the farmers from the limitations of insufficient rain (220mm p.a.). The resulting increased crop capacity provides needed surplus earnings to the subsistence economy of the households.
Additionally, most of the irrigation work that used to be the task of women and children can now be done by pump technologies. Therefore, due to the time saved by not having to fetch water, there has been an increase in school attendance by children, especially of girls. Children are healthier, because of less disease and thus more able to participate in classes, and also have more time for educational and social activities.
Types of water lifting devices
Below are listed the eight main types of water lifting devices used in small-scale irrigation, followed by several visual examples.