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 Smart Hand Pumps Promise Cleaner Water in Africa

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Ashley Bacchus

Number of posts : 64
Registration date : 2011-02-06

PostSubject: Smart Hand Pumps Promise Cleaner Water in Africa    Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:22 pm

UK researchers have developed data transmitters that fit inside hand pumps and send text messages if the devices break down. They will be trying out the new system in 70 villages in Kenya. The reason for the new technology is that at any given moment about a third of the hand pumps are broken and repairs can take up to a month. This means that while the pumps are broken the people have to find other sources of water, and usually itís dirty contaminated water, thus increasing the risk of disease in the villages. I assume that why the repairs can take up to a month is because some villages are very remote and it could take weeks to essentially walk to a village where they could find someone to fix the pumps. The article states that itís estimated that more people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to mobile phone networks than have access to improved water supplies. While I think that this is kind of sad, I guess itís good that they have taken advantage of this situation in order to help improve the access to clean water. The data transmitter measures the movement of the handle and that is used to estimate the water flow of that hand-pump. It will send information via text message to the central office, and if a pumps breaks they can quickly dispatch a mechanic to fix the problem. The researchers hope to get enough data so that small changes in the way the pumps are handled could be used to anticipate a problem before it occurs. The power required to run the transmitters is an issue however. They will use long lasting batteries, but of course this means that the batteries will have to be replaced once they run out of power. While I think that this new technology will definitely be helpful to Africans, I think that another way they couldíve have approached this situation would be to train someone in each village that has a water pump to fix the pumps if they break. I understand that this also has some costs and problems associated with it but itís just another suggestion to fix the problem.
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