iDE Rope Pump
Hand-operated pump for accessing water when the water table depth is out of reach of suction pumps, up to 35m.
iDE manufactures the pumps to be distributed by various businesses serving farmers.
iDE implements their own product as part of the Rural Prosperity Initiative II (RPI-II) program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Pump costs vary based on well depth. The greatest variation of 6-22 meter depth was $66.77-85.86 USD (1400-1800 ETB as of 2008).
IDE aim to keep the combined cost of a hand-drilled borehole and pump to below $167.00 USD (3,500 ETB), including installation. The cost of the pump itself is kept below $100. They are able to do this because they source and negotiate for materials in bulk and the producer buys them from the centralised IDE store.
Vergnet Hydropump, U3M, Afridev, India Mark II, Volanta, Tany, Bush Pump, Elephant Pump
Smallholder farmers in need of micro-irrigation technologies
Individually crafted by local craftsmen/producers
Open source technology
243 (as of 2011)
The iDE Rope Pump is a hand-operated option for accessing water when the water table depth is out of reach of suction pumps, up to 35m. Washers of locally-available material are tied some distance apart along a long loop of rope, which is threaded down into a well and back up through a pipe. As the rope leaves the pipe it passes over a wheel and back down into the well. As the wheel is turned, the washers bring water up in a continuous stream through the pipe.
• Construction Materials: Sheet metal, tire, rebar, PVC handle, rope, washers of local material
• Dimensions: 1.3m x 0.6m
• Weight: 15kg
• Pressurized Irrigation Systems
• Well Bores less than 75mm Diameter
Note, IDE does not recommend depths over 22 m because the Rope Pump cannot then be effective lifting water for productive purpose, which is their main objective. However yields are still adequate for domestic purposes.
See image. Product schematics are shown in the iDE catalog, Page 15
Most issues are possible to resolve by basic troubleshooting. Technician support may be needed if issue is complex, however a trained village mechanic should be able to resolve problems.
All of the methods in testing / building a new rope pump are listed in the training manual assistance that iDE provides to a producer/manufacturer.
Rope and washers need periodic replacement. Available in country.
Lifespan information unavailable. Warranty information not specified by iDE. Individual dealers and organizations implementing the pumps may have their own warranty.
Performance targets are noted in the downloadable catalog here
• Daily pumping** to irrigate 200m² (minutes): 70 – 100, 90 – 130, 140 – 200, 180 – 270
Approximate discharge (m^3 /hour at __ head)
• 24 L/min at 6m head
• 18 L/min at 9m head
• 12 L/min at 12m head
• 9 L/min at 18m head
*Assumes single adult focused on the task* **Daily pumping time will vary based on quality of well, strength of operator/s, soil / crop type, irrigation method, and environmental conditions.
• For depth to water up to 18m, the rope pump can be used for irrigating small plots in addition to other domestic water uses
• For depth to water beyond 18m, the rope pump is best suited for domestic use. Irrigation would be limited to dense agriculture like seedling nurseries
iDE conducted testing
Water quality is still of concern, because of a lack of data for all rope pumps. See report Section 3.6
Water output is not pressurized: water will need to be transported to the field, or be elevated to use drip or sprinkle irrigation.
Harvey, P. A., Drouin, T., The case for the rope-pump in Africa: A comparative performance analysis. Journal of Water and Health. 2006;4(4):499-510
Smulders, P.T., Rijs, R.P.P., A hydrodynamic model of the rope pump [Internet]. Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Eindhoven University of Technology; 2006 Sep 23 [cited 2015 Aug 6].
Alberts, J.H., The rope pump – an example of technology transfer. Waterlines. 2012 Dec 04;22(3).
Goret, A.C., Albers, J.H., Gago, J.F., Sandifor, P., A randomized trial of the impact of rope-pumps on water quality. The Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 1995;98(4):247-255.
Turner, B., Small-scale irrigation in developing countries. Land Use Policy. 1994 Oct;11(4):251-261.
This working paper developed by the Research-inspired Policy and Practice Learning in Ethiopia and the Nile region (RiPPLE) Research Programme Consortium provides a comprehensive analysis of the scaling efforts for rope pumps including IDE’s. The paper notes that the lack of demand for pumps in most areas, and the lack of capacity to respond to demand where it has developed are slowing down any efforts to go to scale. If rope pumps are to play a significant part in Universal Access Plan (UAP) coverage it will need a concerted effort by the Bureau of Water Resources to have them recognised as a valuable technology by both sector professionals and households, and consequently included in their budgets. Technical guidelines are well-developed, but those for introducing and marketing rope pumps are not.
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