Solar-powered water pumps: when ACTED Teams deploy their expertise to the service of conflict-affected Syrian communities

Report
from ACTED
Published on 13 Sep 2018 View Original

In the midst of an emergency response, ACTED is investing in tomorrow through the rehabilitation and solarization of water supply infrastructure to bring drinking water to conflict-affected Syrian communities in a sustainable way.

Solarization initiative for sustainability

ACTED, providing clean water to conflict-affected populations of Syria since 2012, is expanding its efforts in the area of sustainable drinking water supply through solarization. While all eyes are turned to the emergency response, ACTED is investing in a better future through the development of cleaner, more self-sufficient and more sustainable energy sources for recovering communities.

Currently, many communities rely on costly water trucking measures or local water systems which have fallen into disrepair, either through time or conflict. By rehabilitating local water infrastructure, ACTED supports the early-recovery process in the region and strengthens the self-sufficiency of the population. Furthermore, ACTED’s innovative approach to water infrastructure will reduce electricity and fuel costs while relieving local authorities of the need to provide costly maintenance.

ACTED’s expertise at the service of remote populations

Solarizing WASH infrastructure in conflict-affected areas is not a simple task, but by liaising with water authorities and deploying technical expertise in the field, ACTED has been able to design an appropriate system. Firstly, a team of ACTED engineers worked with a local contractor to provide and install a new submersible pump working on Direct Current (DC), which now allows the borehole to work at a higher efficiency (up to 90%). The DC pump is directly tied to the solar array via a controller, so it does not require an inverter; this has minimized the investment cost, but will also reduce the risks of break down and the frequency of maintenance.

Additionally, the borehole was protected, while the pipes and fittings connecting the borehole to the elevated tank were rehabilitated. The team also repaired the elevated tank and the damages resulting from conflict. Finally, ACTED installed solar panels, a controller, a lightning surge protector and a photo-voltaic generator (group of mono-crystalline solar panels).

The solar panel has the advantages of providing a water supply adapted to the seasonal needs of households; while the borehole will provide a minimum of 15 cubic meters of water per day during winter months, the quantity of water available in the summer increases to 24 cubic meters, thus enabling households to increase their consumption accordingly. Additionally, the lifespan of such solar installation is 25 years, making this a sustainable intervention that will serve local communities for many years to come.

In order to guarantee the continued sustainability of the intervention, local water authorities have been trained on maintaining solarized boreholes. The project was a learning experience for the local contractor who gained new skills that will enable him to expand his services to include sustainable solar-powered water supply infrastructure.

In the coming months, ACTED will continue rehabilitating and solarizing water supply infrastructure to improve its potential as a key water provider and to reach even more communities in need of drinking water.