Water lifting devices is a technique to lift water from a lower layer to the upper layer.
Organization or Actors: Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Centre for international Migration and Development (CIM)
Project Title: GIZ Regional Program on Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in Central Asia
Period: 2008 - ongoing
Location: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (cooperation relations with related programs in Afghan Badakhshan Province)
Key words: energy efficient pumps, irrigation in dry mountain regions, smallholder agri- and horticulture, natural resources, small scale irrigation, adaptation to climate change
Water is a crucial factor for agriculture, human consumption and hydropower engineering in Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO). Thus, its availability plays a vital role for the region’s development. Moreover, water is also the Pamirs’ most important source of energy, with two hydropower stations around Khorog being the main providers of electricity in GBAO.
Though the Pamirs are abundant with water, the slopes of the Pamirs’ valleys are dry and barren. Due to the mountainous relief in connection with the sparse vegetation and the low rate of precipitation, most of the water flows unused down the rivers. Therefore, agriculture is only possible directly in the river plains or by irrigating the land. But due to management deficits water in GBAO does not serve the current need of its inhabitants.
Due to climate change, water availability will be drastically aggravated. In the semi-dry area of the Pamirs, rivers are the main source of water. As most major rivers in GBAO are fed by glaciers at around 10 to 20 per cent, the melting process of glaciers will have a significant influence on water availability, not only for the Pamirs but also for the rest of the country, as well as the downstream countries. It is expected that the glacial inflow to the large rivers will increase due to intensive melting of mountain glaciers in the short to medium-term, while in the long-term perspective they will dramatically decrease due to the glacial deficit.
After the independence of Tajikistan, and the respective abrupt stop of external supplies, diesel pumps and other irrigation infrastructure quickly degraded due to high fuel and maintenance costs and chaotic transformation of the Soviet planning economic system. Traditional knowledge on irrigation techniques from pre-Soviet times is lost. Existent water resources are used inefficiently. For the rehabilitation of infrastructure and sustainable management of natural resources it is important to search for efficient irrigation technologies and to disseminate appropriate management mechanisms on household and community levels. In compliance with the existing project interventions of the GIZ Project “Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Gorno-Badakhshan”, another key topic is to enhance the climate resilience of livelihoods in marginal mountain regions of Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan.
The main focus of the water component of the mentioned project is to elaborate, implement, standardize and disseminate energy efficient water lifting technologies via market mechanisms on the household level with the prospect of future expansion on the community level.
In 2008, no standardized energy efficient water lifting technologies, adapted to local conditions in Gorno-Badakhshan and Tajikistan, were available. The lack of craftsmen’s technical skills as well as the poor equipment of production facilities hinders development in this field. Although good ideas exist, the lack of business skills and entrepreneurial initiative is decelerating innovation. Reliable supply and market chains on raw-materials and final products are not established. On the demand side, a lack of awareness on the necessity and benefits of energy efficient water lifting technologies is a major obstacle. Lack of financial means in most of the households complicates dissemination of innovative technologies.
The ram and swim pumps are standardized and ready for distribution. So far several dozens of ram pumps are tested, sold and installed in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and in northeastern part of Afghanistan. Other organizations like the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)-Afghanistan, Mountain Societies Development Support Programme in Tajikistan (MSDSP - a project of the Aga Khan Foundation) and the United Nations Development Programme implemented the GIZ supported pump technology.
Example ram pump
Technical details and performance
works continuously without external energy supply using the force of flowing water
Intake ram pump in Tajikistan
- ram pump can lift approximately 4,000 litres to a 30 metres height (different models available, can lift up water up to 100 metres) during a 24hour period (depending on strength of water fall, the device can pump more water or pump the water higher. For example, with a fall of 5 metres the device pumps 8,000 liters in 24 hours to 30 meters height or 4,000 liters to 50 meters height)
- A ram pump uses the energy of a larger part of falling water (from a small waterfall or steep stream or from a small irrigation canal/ditch) to pump a smaller amount of water up hill.
- The pump requires specific natural landscapes and conditions. Choosing the right location is extremely important for the best and most useful services of the pump.
- The most important requirement is to have a location where water is falling from one height to another. The minimum “fall” is 2 metres. A fall of 3 to 6 metres is optimal.
- To built up sufficient pressure the pipe carrying water to the pump (i.e. the water input pipe) must have at least 8 metres of length and the same diameter (or bigger) than the pump input hole.
- It functions as a hydraulic transformer that takes in water at one "hydraulic head" (pressure) and flow-rate, and outputs water at a higher hydraulic-head and lower flow-rate. The device utilizes the water hammer effect to develop pressure allowing a portion of the input water to be lifted to a point higher than the original starting point of the water.
- The pump can strongly vibrate during operation. If not fixed down it may move, possibly causing damages the pipe system.
- To fix the pump firmly, bolts held in concrete should be used. The bolts will allow the pump to be removed for winter storage or repair if necessary.
Investment costs: the user needs to invest between around $120 to $150 for the pump and piping (depending on local cost of materials and production).After the initial investment there are no costs for using (no fuel or electricity) and only very small costs for maintaining for buying .
Well maintained, a ram pump can work for decades. Ram Pumps only have two moving parts, making them virtually maintenance-free and very durable. In 2007 the first ram pumps were invented in the Central Asian region and they are still working properly.
Example swim pump
- is powered by the kinetic energy of flowing water
- it operates by a small rotor slowly making the pump rotate in a stream
- water enters the back of the pump and is forced through a coil of plastic tubes, then pushed through a hose into a tank or cistern uphill
- can be placed in a stream or creek
- will pump all year through flash floods and frost
Technical details and performance
- Pump is placed in a stream with a current velocity of at least 0,6m/s and a depth of the river of minimal 25-40 cm.
- The swim pump can lift approximately 3,500 liters to a 12 meters height during a 24hour period
- maintenance and repair costs are extremely low
- initial investment costs - $150 locally produced
- well maintained, a swim pump can work for decades
- there is virtually no maintenance
Technical advantages of the ram and swim pump
- Both pumps are very strong for pumping water uphill and they are simple to install and use
- They can be made and repaired locally using locally available materials, after a training of craftsmen
- Both pumps have no running costs because they do not need fuel or electricity, therefore they can be used in remote areas with no electrical supply
- Very robust technology, low vulnerability, even under adverse conditions.
- These technologies were developed in combination of water storage devices. Furthermore, irrigation pumps and water storage technologies improve irrigation and provide the possibility to carry water over to the dry seasons for strengthening the resilience.
The pumps play a crucial role in more prolonged dry periods due to changes in climate. Thus, small agricultural land can be irrigated for subsistence farming within those periods but also small market oriented farming. This increases food and nutrition local security and diversifies income. Another aspect is that these technologies can be manufactured and repaired locally. For economic sustainability, it will be necessary that farmers can regain their investment and maintenance costs by selling their irrigated produce.
Furthermore, irrigation pumps and water storage technologies improve irrigation and provide the possibility to carry water over to the dry seasons. Rainwater harvesting also protects houses against heavy rain. The energy efficient water technologies component of the programme contributes to mitigation of climate change. The emission of greenhouse gases is minimized by using energy more efficiently to combat desertification as it reduces the pressure on biomass (especially teresken, whose degradation is a major cause of desertification in the Eastern Pamir) and to conserve biodiversity as it reduces pressure on natural resources.
Since 2008, the ram and swim pumps have been developed under and adapted to local conditions. Since then, about 80 (status spring 2012) energy efficient water technologies are implemented. Therefore the ram pump was implemented by entrepreneurs and farmers in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. In 2011 for example, 10 ram pumps were installed in Afghan-Badakshan, Afghanistan.
The sustainability of production and dissemination of energy efficient water lifting devices depends on local craftsmen and entrepreneurs and their ability to set up their businesses. The access to the pumps takes place via a retailer cooperative called "Zindagi", founded by local craftsman with the support of GIZ AFC and in cooperation with the micro-loan organization MADINA.
In Central Asia, there is a high demand for such technologies, especially in the remote areas.
Due to a lack of low income of the target groups it is mostly impossible that local people can effort the money for buying these technologies. Further, the demand cannot be complied because of lack of available human capacities.
Link to climate change, food security and energy
- Climate change: no emissions of greenhouse gases through the pumps
- Food security: enabling the increase of production through irrigation
- Energy: no artificial energy use for pumping
Central Asia Regional Water Information Base Project (CAREWIB)