Updated on March 18, 2024


Created on August 27, 2015

AFD-1 Water Flow Sensor

The AFD-1 Water Flow Sensor measures water flow rates within an Afridev or India Mark II handpump and transmits data via mobile networks.

Developed By Unknown
Tested By
  • PCH Lime Lab
Content Partners


Product Description

AFD-1 water flow meter measures water flow rates within an Afridev or India Mark II handpump and transmits data to enable response by local repair teams. It comes with a software platform, called Dispatch Monitor™, that will receive incoming data packets from those sensors and visualize that information for anyone in the world.

The data is transmitted via a GSM network and the information is used to determine the state of the pump and the water consumption patterns. Charity: Water uses the information to allow donors to see the state of the wells they fund.

Target SDGs

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Community, NGOs

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

Charity: water with Partner NGOs.

Competitive Landscape

Direct competitors include MoMo Remote Sensor and SWEETSense Technologies.

Manufacturing/Building Method

AFD-1 water flow sensor is manufactured by PCH Lime Lab in China.

Intellectural Property Type


User Provision Model

For now, only the charity: water team and its local project partners can access the charity: water sensor and the software interface Dispatch Monitor. Interested users can contact charity:water or build their own sensor and monitoring platform.

Distributions to Date Status

1,000 of a planned 3,500 sensors have been installed on Afridev hand pumps in rural communities in Ethiopia, as of March 2016. Of that number, 700 are actively transmitting hourly water-flow data to the cloud, thanks to an embedded virtual SIM card and "pre-existing roaming agreements with every telecom company in the world." The other 300 sensors are located in areas with no cell service

Design Specifications

The AFD-1 meter uses capacitance sensors to measure hourly volumes of water flow. Each sensor's reading is compared to the past hour's maximum value. If the delta is greater than the predetermined threshold, the pad is considered "submerged". The highest "submerged" pad is used to estimate that second's volume. If hourly stored estimates are unavailable, daily usage can be calculated from the sensor statistics. The sensors are powered by a lithium battery rated to last 12 years. The sensors and batteries are located in an FDA-approved plastic enclosure intended for operation in harsh conditions. The full package is waterproof and can withstand temperatures up to 140 degrees F and 70mph impact. AFD-1 meter has open-sourced files for both the sensor and the Dispatch Monitor™  including firmware specifications, mechanical and electrical design drawings, test cases, and code. The AFD-1 meter is designed to be integrated into the Afridev or India Mark II pump, without interfering with pump functionality, water flow, or regular pump maintenance. According to Charity:water, installation takes 15 minutes and can be done by untrained individuals.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

charity: water's Pipeline program is set up to train teams of mechanics on how to fix any problems with the water pumps. These teams are set up regionally and handle 50 - 100 water points per team.

Replacement Components



Battery lifespan: 12 years

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

AFD-1 Sensors are capable of transmitting data from remote, low connectivity areas, as well as learning the "normal" behavior of a given well and reporting immediately when there is a significant behavior change. The AFD-1 Meter does not impede pump functionality Pipeline pamphlet charity:water

Vetted Performance Status

No publicly published data available to date.


No known safety hazards are related to this product.

Complementary Technical Systems

The AFD-1 meter is an information gathering system for Afridev, India Mark II, and other pumps worldwide. It must be attached to an existing pump for it to have any use.

Academic Research and References


Compliance with regulations

Product utilizes FDA-approved plastic. Pipeline pamphlet charity:water

Evaluation methods

Field trials – 100+ sensors have been field tested throughout the design process. Pipeline pamphlet charity:water Durability testing included drop, stress, and environmental testing.

Other Information

Funded through a $5 million "Impact Award" grant from Google.org in 2012 to develop and deploy the water flow sensor.

Comments from the Community

1 Comment

  1. Iana Aranda says:

    As per Bob: UV
    technology requires a source of UV.
    Although in developed countries this is not a significant issue in
    developing countries and in remote areas the availability of UV hardware is
    limited. Other components such as
    housings, covers, electronics and controls are available if an appropriate
    supply chain is developed and maintained to provide these materials at the
    appropriate cost, quality and delivery to support production. No special piping or chemicals are required
    to support UV sterilization.

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