Category Archives: Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance Approach of community hand pumps in Sierra Leone

Inter Aide Sierra Leone has progressively tested, implemented and adapted a Preventive Maintenance Approach (PMA) in Bombali District of Sierra Leone.  The PMA allows to target 100% functionality:  99% of the maintained hand pumps are in working conditions, only 6 out of 610 being non-functional.

In October 2017, Bombali District is covered by a network of 17 private Pump Technicians, covering the 13 chiefdoms and supervising 610 hand pumps out of the 1400 existing, in more than 517 villages.  Activities started in Tonkolili District end of 2016 with the methodology and tools presented in the following document :

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Preventive Maintenance Approach of community hand pumps in Sierra Leone


The preventive maintenance strategy

The maintenance program conducted in Bombali district intends to support the communities doing a first reparation of their pump, in order to restore their system to normal standards, and to then enter in a dynamic of preventive maintenance. For that, the program encourages the communities to organise and to raise contributions from the water users for the first repair and the maintenance of their pump. The program facilitates the understanding of the notion of maintenance, reinforce the skills of a Water Committee (when existing), train a local pump caretaker for the regular maintenance of the pump head, and link the community with private operators. After a first reparation of the pump, the objective is to enable yearly preventive maintenance of the systems, paid by the users and operated by competent private Pump Officers. These private actors are trained and homologated by the Water Directorate.


1st shot, repairs and preventive maintenance

First shot = initial repair = entry point in the strategy

Once the water committee is trained, it is left to the community organizing itself to gather the conditions requested for an Inter Aide intervention on their pump. These conditions are the following: contribution of Le 300,000, fencing of the well[1] and cleaning of its environment: as some pumps are broken down beyond the community’s ability to pay the full cost, Inter Aide only subsidizes this first intervention.

1st shot

Depending on the work to be done, this operation lasts on average one full day and aims at repairing and upgrading the hand pump (replacement of any galvanized parts by stainless ones). The following steps are respected:

  • Preparation at the office of the spare parts needed according to the diagnose form. Spare parts delivery on site
  • Introduction meeting to remind the community about the purpose of this visit
  • Repair of the pump by the Pump Officer under the supervision of Inter Aide.
  • Receipt of intervention filling: for any intervention, the technical team must fill it with the list of the spare parts changed, the amount of money collected and the purpose of the money. This receipt is filled in 2 copies: one for the office and the other one for the water committee. Final meeting with water committee and community members.
  • Delivery of tools and documentation: after the first shot, the pump caretaker receives the tools provided by Inter Aide for his basic maintenance work. A metal cash box is also provided to the committee to secure the money collected.

[1] The fencing can be locally made with sticks at first. Once the first shot is done, Inter Aideproposes to the communities a strategy to build a concrete fence: if the community provides mud blocks and 2 bags of cement then the program provides also 2 bags of cement. With 4 bags, the village has enough cement to seal the blocks and to plaster the fence all around to reinforce it.

Regular repairs :

The cost of the workmanship for the Pump Officer depends on the type of repair:

  • Minor repair is an intervention focused only on the hand pump head assembly (changing of bearings, chain, etc.) The Pump Officer does not need to dismantle the entire system. In this case his workmanship is Le 40,000.
  • Major repair is an intervention where the entire hand pump has to be dismantled (changing of cylinder valve, connecting rod disconnection, etc.). In this case the Pump Officer workmanship is Le 60,000.


Preventive maintenance :

Once the first repair has been done, the next main challenge is to encourage the communities to enter in a regular maintenance scheme of their pump. To ensure the sustainability of their facility and avoid major and expensive repairs, a yearly preventive maintenance of the pump by their Pump Officer in charge is highly recommended.

A preventive maintenance consists in dismantling the entire pump in order to achieve a complete diagnosis of the system. Once a year, the Pump Officer books a date for this intervention with the committee. All the parts are checked, cleaned, greased and replaced if necessary in order to ensure a proper functioning until the next maintenance the year after.

Definitions of the maintenance

The note in link put forward the concept of maintenance and the distinction that can be done between preventive or corrective maintenance and rehabilitation. It highlights notions of regular care and diagnosis for water systems in rural areas (not only for SIerra Leone !) for gravity schemes, wells and boreholes equipped of hand pumps). icon_pdf

A wide range of hand pumps’ types : one of the challenge for maintenance in Sierra Leone

A survey conducted from October to November 2011 in the 7 chiefdoms targeted by the program in the South Bombali District showed that among the 569 hand dug wells and 110 boreholes that have been identified, only 66% of them were functional. This park of hand pumps is also ageing and quite varied: India Mark 2 (71%), PB Mark 2 (12%), Kardia (7%), Afridev, etc.variety of hand pumpsIt is therefore difficult for the communities to have an easy access to spare parts when their pumps are broken as such variety of models of hand pumps scatters the demand and makes difficult establishing a sustainable suply chain at local level.

  • Indian Mark II

India markHand pump made in India: galvanized or stainless type. In Sierra Leone, this pump is available in most of the suppliers at a reasonable cost for stainless type (around 2.900.000 SLL) and offers a good quality for its price. A regular maintenance is compulsory to ensure the sustainability and avoid major breakdown. The installation process is also really important and has to be done properly (iron rods lengths, cylinder position from the bottom, hand pump stand straight…).

see maintenance guidelines.

  • Kardia

KardiaHand pump made in Germany: K65 and K2000 types. Kardia is one of the strongest pumps of the market but is really expensive compare to an Indian Mark 2 (around 12.000.000 SLL). Most of these pumps were installed during the relief period when the funds were highly available. The main problem is that spare parts are quite expensive and very difficult to find.

see maintenance guidelines.