04 Apr 2007 News and stories

Ashden Awards 2007

Established in 2001, the Ashden Awards are a globally recognised measure for excellence in the field of green energy.

Founded by the Ashden Trust, celebrate the very best in small-scale, sustainable energy schemes in the UK and developing world. They highlight projects which save or generate energy at a local level, providing direct benefits to the community, while also tackling environmental threats. Schemes covering solar, wind, micro-hydro, biomass, biogas and energy efficiency have all been winners in previous years.

Article originally appeared on Positive.News 

Getting Water to Hillside Villages

Fresh water is so vital for life and yet so hard to come by for many in the developing world. A project in the Philippines has transformed the lives of thousands of rural villagers through the well thought out application of appropriate, renewable technology.

On the island of Negros there are numerous villages perched high above available water sources, with the only supply lying far below in streams or rivers in the valleys. Fetching daily water for drinking and cooking, meant a difficult scramble down steep slopes on foot, lugging it back up in jerry cans attached to a shoulder yoke, a task both dangerous and extremely time consuming. It has meant that water is a precious resource used only for essential drinking or cooking with little left over for things like washing or irrigation.

Since the 90s, the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, AID, has been exploring ways of providing hillside communities with all the abundant fresh water necessary for a good quality of life. The terrain is ideally suited to ‘ram pump’ technology, a method of pumping water uphill without using electricity or diesel. Ram pumps use the power of flowing water to lift it up to 200 metres vertically. The technology was invented by the Montgolfier Brothers in the late 18th century but was little used due to the dawn of cheap power.

It is ideally suited for areas with abundant rainfall, since it uses a simple mechanism to transfer the energy of a large amount of water flowing a short but steep distance downhill, to pump a small proportion of the flow much further uphill; sometimes over a mile in distance from the source.

Operating continuously, the system pumps water to a raised tank in the village, from where it flows in pipes to collection points for households and across fields for irrigation.

At first I didn’t believe it would work. How can you raise water higher than it was without some power? But you know, seeing is believing!

- Pedro Zayco Jr: Mayor of Kabankalan City

Dutch born Auke Idzenga, founder of AID, travelled around the Philip-pines looking at existing ‘ram pump’ installations to identify factors crucial to successful operation of the technology. As a result, he designed an innovative, durable pump with cheap, locally available options for those parts needing regular replacement.

Over the last ten years AID has installed 98 of these ram pumps in 68 communities, providing water for over 15,000 people and irrigation
g large areas. A tenth of the installed pumps have replaced electric or diesel ones, saving on fuel and cutting emissions. There are financial benefits too. Any village with excess water can sell it on to a neighbouring community that does not yet have a pump.