Demotech, design for self reliance

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RopePump: The Mobile Training Unit
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The Mobile Training Unit


The purpose of Mobile Training Unit (MTU) is:

  • To introduce and put to practice new innovative designs and working methods on water and sanitation projects at the level of villages.
  • To provide training for personnel of the counterpart organization in all aspects of village level water and sanitation projects, as an integrated part of project work with the village . This training is specially directed at the use of the innovative approach on appropriate technology. It is not only related to technical and management aspects, but also to pedagogical aspects to speed up the process of learning and implementation.
  • To act as a base for technical research end development. To find out about other needs and problems in the villages, that could be addressed by the counterpart organization.
  • To promote that women share knowledge and abilities in the new techniques. Women can choose to be involved in construction of those parts and processes that relate to future maintenance. Special care has been taken to choose working methods that in general are accessible for women. In Demotech projects in Thailand and Ghana women cooperated effectively in the production of those parts of the Rope Pump that need regular inspection and sometimes need to be replaced. In Ghana a group of women was trained in a few hours to remove and replace a Rope Pump from a 40 meter deep bore hole.
    The project is based on appropriate techniques as developed by the foundation "Demotech, design for self?reliance". Innovative designs have been developed, that are 100% compatible with local conditions, materials, abilities and the local (low) economic potential. As a result it is possible to initiate local development without giving material aid. Support is restricted to raising expectations, raising self-confidence by a process of training and guidance for only a short period.
    These claims are based on prior project experience in Ghana, Marocco, Thailand and Indonesia. The performance of Demotech designed tools is comparable and in many aspects superior to similar commercially available tools. The level of quality could only be reached by thorough research in practice as well as in testing prototypes in the Demotech laboratory in the Netherlands.

    In relation to the urgent need for improved water and sanitation facilities the usual methods of developments are too slow, too difficult to manage and too costly. The Mobile Training Unit has a potential answer to these problems.
    The Mobile Training Unit's method for implementation became possible by the quality reached with the Demotech designs: Normally expected performance without the price.
    Implementation can now be based on local initiatives and local resources, including local finance. This is the essential pre-condition for an autonomous process of the spread and use of the new methods, such as happened in Indonesia. A few years after the introduction of the Demotech Rope Pump in 1979, more than thousand of these pumps were reported to have been made on local, most private initiatives. (See "Rope Pumps, a review of ten years experience, see ).

    Mobility of the Training Unit simplifies the organization of the introduction and implementation. Smaller and larger vehicles could also be useful, but a five tons truck seems ideal:
    - The truck can take in one load all the personnel and all material recourses to the project region. The unit is ready to start work at the moment of arrival. - The truck can store all the resources during the project period and protect it against the weather (cement) and theft. The Training Unit's personnel can use it for shelter, for taking a rest, for cooking and taking meals, for having discussions within the group, etc.
    - The truck can act as a platform and focus point during the demonstration in advance of the project. It has (audio) visual aids, simple diagrams, slide projection or video,
    - The truck makes it possible to drive without organizational delay to a village to start a project.
    - The truck can give comfortable sleeping accommodation to the project manager/instructor and provide facilities for cooking and bathing for the other team members, that camp nearby.

    The project training and implementation in the villages concentrates on:
    - digging and lining of hand?dug wells, close to? or in the center of the village.
    - deepening and repair of existing wells,
    - clearing boreholes from broken?down handpumps, later to be replaced by Rope?pumps.
    - the local construction of the Demotech Rope?pump, suitable for wells and boreholes, up to a depth of 100 feet,
    - construction of bathroom?toilet units for the private use. one for each family in order to raise comfort, privacy and hygienic conditions.

    Training is an integrated part of project implementation in the village. Trainees participate and learn from:
    - doing the work itself,
    - the way it is handled by the people from the village,
    - techniques of training, as actually used in the project,
    - background information and instruction, given by the trainer on details of techniques and project management and the social aspects of both.

    Well digging is a slow process, which can be done without the constant supervision of the trainer. For this reason the Training Unit can serve circa six villages in the same project period.
    Training and construction of Rope Pumps and bathroom?toilet units may take a period of two to three weeks.
    Apart from the training of personnel, the practical output of the training?unit in every one month period could roughly be estimated to:
    - 2 lined wells, if one well takes two months or less,
    - the construction and installation of 2 to 6 Rope?pumps.
    - 20 bathroom?toilet units for private/family use.

    The training?unit consists of:
    - a project manager/instructor, for the first phase provided by DEMOTECH.
    - an assistant instructor (trainee for the future task of project?manager/instructor).
    - senior trainees. They are engaged in rural development work and temporary recruited from their organization. After their training, senior trainees are expected to instruct in villages on their own.
    - junior trainees, recruited from the Counterpart Organization, The training unit prepares them to support on their own an ongoing project in one particular village.
    - 16 persons seems to be the maximum number of personnel of the Mobile Training Unit.

    As the training?unit's capacity to implement projects in villages is small compared to the demand, it seems justifiable to work only with communities that are eager and able to cooperate.
    Communities, that are hesitant, or find it difficult to organize themselves, can later decide to participate, when there are some working examples on the ground.
    It will be encouraged that men with some experience from the pilot villages, will be hired by other communities to reproduce the new facilities.

    The selection of the village with which the training unit cooperates will be based on the following procedure:
    - A demonstration?routing list is made up of villages with a clear need for improved water and sanitation facilities. Later any village with an interest in a similar project, can make an entry on this list.
    - In agreement with these villages, dates are set for demonstrations to be made to the village gathering.
    - The Training Unit than gives a demonstration, using audio-visual material to clarify the various stages of the project.
    Emphasis is put on the self-help aspects of the proposed projects. Constraints of cost, organization of communal labor and later maintenance are made clear. The gathering is asked to consider the pros and cons and informs the Training Unit of their decision. To support discussions, posters with illustrations are left behind. Further initiative is left to the village community.
    - If a community has asked the MTU to continue, it is necessary to ensure there is a thorough understanding of what is involved in the project. For this a second demonstration is organized in the village.
    - In case there is a need for a well, the first 4 feet are actually dug and lined with material brought by the Training Unit. A demonstration is given how the well lining blocks are made from concrete.
    Where there is a need for a pump on an existing well or borehole, the training?unit temporarily mounts a Rope Pump and demonstrates its use.
    - Again it is made very clear that the actual project may take a long time, that there is no guarantee that the new well will give water, that there may be difficulties in organizing communal labor and that they have to bear the cost for the materials used. However it is also made clear, that they can rely on the guidance of the training unit as long as the project goes on. Finally it is explained, that the training unit is willing to start the project, if the following conditions are met:
    - Also it is made clear that finance should be made available by the village in advance for the materials needed, available from the truck or locally bought.
    - community participation is properly organized.
    - After a week the demonstration materials (pump, lining blocks) are retrieved and again the initiative for a follow up is left with this community.

    When the village notifies the team that the above conditions are met, the training unit tries to integrate this new project in to its program.

While the training unit's capacity to implement projects in villages is still small, it seems justifiable to work only with communities that are eager and able to cooperate. Communities, that are hesitant, or find it difficult to organize themselves can later decide to participate, when there are some working examples on the ground.
It will be encouraged that men with some experience from the pilot villages, will be hired by other communities to reproduce these facilities.


Example for use in a village project, cost to be repaid in full by the village community:

  • cement total 35 bags (in case of one 15 meter deep lined well with apron and cover plus 15 bathroom?toilet units)
  • PVC-pipe for the construction of one ropepump for a 35 meter deep bore hole plus a RopePump for the 15 meter deep well:
  • PVC-pipe diameter 1 inch (28mm) 15 length of 5 meter
  • Rope, polyethylene, diameter 5mm. 75 meter

    For making wooden molds for casting concrete parts for the lining blocks and the parts of the bathroom toilet unit:
  • Medium quality wooden boards 14ft x 1ftx 1 inch (to be purchased locally)
  • discarded car tires and inner tubes, 3 of each.

    For village use only, cost to be re-paid in full by communities:
  • cement in total 30 bags
  • 26 length of PVC-pipe:
  • 16 lengths of 1"
  • 10 lengths of 1.25"

    For training local personal:
  • 8 Odum boards (to be purchased locally)
  • Rubber tires and tubes ( ,, )

    Tools and provisions to be used mainly by the team members and belonging to the Mobile Training Unit:
  • 4 handsaws
  • 4 chisels 0.75"
  • 2 planes
  • 4 cutlasses
  • 4 knives village type
  • 2 pickaxes
  • 2 shovels

    For transport:

  • 4 bicycles
  • 1 motorcycle for use by Demotech
  • 1 bus (see proposal for future mobile team)

    For transport of the team members between the work sites in the villages::

  • 4 bicycles
  • 1 motorcycle for use by Demotech

    For accommodation of the team members:

  • 3 tents
  • camping beds
  • lanterns
  • utensils: cups, plates, buckets, etc.

    Training materials, purpose to produce teaching materials on pumps and wells:

  • slide?projector
  • Demotech drawing table
  • paper, pencils, felt pens, etc.

    RopePump: The Mobile Training Unit
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