Our History: Grundfos & Water Mission Partnership
In 2008, Water Mission began its relationship with Grundfos as a customer. We implemented our first SQFlex solar pump in the rural village of Gorman, Haiti. This system is still pumping safe water today, enduring an earthquake, cholera outbreak, and multiple hurricanes.
Since then, Water Mission has self-implemented over 1,300 Grundfos pumping solutions in various settings: from communities of 250 people in the Peruvian Amazon to large settlements comprised of 160,000 refugees in Nyarugusu, Tanzania.
Our demonstrated excellence in solar pumping solutions has earned Water Mission a reputation as “solar pumping experts” in the development sector. Pictured: Solar installation on the Amazon River. Indiana, Peru.
Grundfos and Water Mission employees pose for a photo in front of solar panel installations. Nyarugusu Refugee Settlement, Tanzania.
Poul Due Jensen and Water Mission: Impacting Lives in Southeast Asia, Kenya, and Tanzania
Water Mission is a trusted partner of the Poul Due Jensen Foundation (PDJF). We first collaborated in 2010 as part of the Southeast Asia Clean Water Initiative. This program is ongoing today, bringing safe water to more than 50 communities in Cambodia and Indonesia. The foundation has also supported safe water projects in more than 30 communities in Kenya.
Additionally, PDJF and Water Mission’s projects serving refugees and host communities in Western Tanzania are considered the gold standard in sustainable safe water solutions in camps and surrounding host communities. Nyarugusu will be the world’s largest refugee camp to be supplied with 100% solar–powered safe water, with a final borehole to be in operation by early 2020.
The first six of these host-community projects commissioned over the past two years cover 100% of operational and maintenance costs. On average, communities save more than $1,600 a year for long-term replacement costs. These said water systems have more than 2,100 combined days of operation, with only five days of downtime, or interrupted water flow. Uptime remains at 99.8%.
Grundfos and Water Mission employees meet under solar panel installations.
Nyarugusu Refugee Settlement, Tanzania.
A Grundfos solar pump installation. ZeZe, Tanzania
Zeze community water flow chart. September 2018 – January 2020.
Education, Engagement, Advocacy, and Technology
The PDJF-Water Mission partnership goes beyond solar pump installations. Grundfos and Water Mission have collaborated on solar pumping education, advocacy, Grundfos employee engagement, and technology innovations:
- Water Mission was an early implementer of Grundfos Lifelink. Over 40 Lifelink V2s were installed in Uganda, Malawi, Haiti, and Indonesia.
- Water Mission also contributed to the design of the new Lifelink AQtap.
- Water Mission implemented four beta versions of AQtap in Uganda.
- Since the AQtaps’ release, we implemented more than 20 AQtaps as part of a World Bank solar pumping and automated water payment system technology pilot project in Tanzania. The success of this project has led to the World Bank releasing an excess of $100 million for solar pumping and automated water payment systems to the government of Tanzania.
- Additionally, we have implemented more than 70 AQtaps in partnership with the Icelandic Development Agency and the local water authority in Buikwe, Uganda.
A Maasai purchases water at an AQTap. Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Nyarugusu refugee project is of historical importance to Grundfos’ technological legacy. Borehole 3 in Nyarugusu was equipped with Grundfos’ first Power Adapt unit, a blending generator supplying AC power with DC solar power. Borehole 2 in Nyarugusu is equipped with Grundfos’ largest RSI (inverter) system ever installed.
Water Mission: A Strategic Asset for Grundfos in Reaching 300 Million People by 2030
Our core values of excellence and integrity align closely with Grundfos’ own core values. Like Grundfos, we understand that investment in quality technology will provide lower lifecycle costs in the long run. This is not the norm in the development sector. However, our project performance and supporting data have begun to influence sector practices.
For every project, we invest heavily upfront in engineering, best-in-class technology, construction quality, and operational and financial management training for communities. We also recognize that system commissioning is not the end of the project. Rather, it stands as a milestone. Every community needs ongoing support.
We partner with communities through the various phases of a water project:
- operation and management,
- and community ownership.
After a project has been transitioned to a community, we offer continued support, ensuring that water is continuously flowing and remains safe for consumption and use.
Water Mission’s experience and success in implementing sustainable solar pumping solutions is now recognized by governments, UN organizations, and other NGOs. In 2017, the refugee crisis in Uganda and Tanzania proved to be an opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise in solar pumping solutions. We implemented at least 30 solar pumping solutions in northern Uganda, serving more than 300,000 refugees.
In addition, Water Mission is currently partnered with the Grundfos Water2Life in Honduras in an effort to provide sustainable safe water access to schools and health care centers, as well as the surrounding community to these institutions. To date, the program has delivered sustainable safe water access to the Hospital San Isidro and Instituto Froylan Turcios, both located in the city of Tocoa in Northern Honduras. The overall impact reaches more than 10,000 men, women and children that utilize these institutions on an annual basis. Furthermore, these projects have innovated some unique ways to achieve additional levels of service and sustainability. For example, the Hospital project now includes an ice making operation made from safe water to help doctors and nurse better provide for the needs of their patients. The Froylan Turcios project provides a unique education program for high school students enrolled in a business class where they are trained in the financial management and operation of the safe water project.
In 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted an audit of solar pumping installations in northern Uganda refugee camps. IOM’s audit revealed many design, installation, and maintenance inadequacies by NGOs, private contractors, and UN agencies. The report noted one exception:
“The weak technical guidance and monitoring on these NGOs by government and UNHCR in the field contributed to the mismanagement of these solar schemes. Water Mission stands out as the NGO with enough in-house expertise to independently design, [operate, and maintain] solar water schemes, and are also the only ones chlorinating water in all of their solar schemes.” A 2017 report by the International Organization for Migration
Solar power installations in the Kabira Community. Jinja, Uganda.
In 2020, UNHCR reduced the number of NGOs providing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in refugee camps in northern Uganda from sixteen to four. Water Mission was given the largest share of WASH-related projects serving refugees in the region. Today, we oversee and fulfill WASH needs in Bidibidi and Rhino camps.
Water Mission: A Valuable and Vetted Resource in the WASH Sector
A key aspect of Water Mission’s strategy is to be a resource to other organizations. We recognize that the enormity of the water crisis is larger than Water Mission’s capabilities. For this, we must partner with other implementers. It is imperative for us to build capacity in others to match the scale of the water crisis.
The Global Water Center: Convening Processes, Products, and People
Water Mission is spearheading the Global Water Center, a collaborative initiative:
- building best-in-class capacity in thousands of organizations through vetted practices, technology and innovation, and standards, and
- mobilizing millions of people to rapidly scale the world’s efforts to end the global water crisis once and for all.
The Global Water Center will become an international network made up of millions of
- international corporations,
- academic institutions,
- non-profit organizations,
- and government agencies.
This global initiative follows Water Mission’s two-decade history of:
- developing best-in-class technology, program development principles and practices, and onsite management resources.
- supporting more than 20 NGOs in solar pumping projects.
Two examples of such partnerships are:
- In 2018, Water Mission partnered with Safe Water Network in Ghana, converting more than 20 of their project sites to solar pumping. We supported the assessment, engineering, equipment sourcing, and logistics for the project. Additionally, we sent a technician from our Uganda program to resource and train their staff on the first three installations.
- Currently, we support Water for Good in the Central African Republic as they transition from their traditional hand pump program to a solar pumping program.
Equipping Partner NGOs in Technology, Community Development, and Onsite Management
Engineering Expertise and Solar-Powered Technology
Our expertise in implementing solar pumping was formally recognized in 2019 when Water Mission entered into a global program cooperation agreement (PCA) with UNICEF’s WASH Headquarters Program Division and UNICEF’s Supply Division. This agreement tasked Water Mission with providing guidance and training on solar-powered water systems (SPWS) for UNICEF country offices.
The 2019 PCA had four goals:
(1) Understand current gaps in UNICEF’s SPWS programming;
(2) Publish an SPWS guidance document;
(3) Integrate and pilot an online SPWS course on Cap-Net, a virtual education and development platform designed for the WASH sector, for UNICEF staff and partners;
(4) Establish and operate a virtual SPWS helpdesk for UNICEF staff and partners.
Under this agreement, Water Mission led the development, administration, and evaluation of an inaugural online course entitled Solar-Powered Water Systems – An Overview of Principles and Practice. The course addressed common misconceptions regarding SPWS, as well as raised awareness and increased utilization of existing standards and reference materials. Course modules covered technical aspects of SPWS and considered supportive and inclusive policy development. The course was offered over a seven-week period, with content organized into six interactive modules that were accessible in stages.
More than 800 people representing nearly 100 countries and 400 organizations from public, private, and civil sectors applied for the course – the highest demand received for any single Cap-Net course to date.
Under the same 2019 PCA with UNICEF, Water Mission developed a comprehensive SPWS design and installation guide to be published in early 2020. This document will provide detailed guidance on all technical topics pertinent to SPWS within the rural water supply context. We based these guidelines on internationally recognized standards and provided instruction on how to meet such specifications.
Lae Hole, Indonesia
Water Mission also contributes to and leads in many of the global WASH sector’s most innovative consortiums: We are a member of the Uptime consortium, an organization focused on quantifying and legitimizing the need for innovative performance-based funding mechanisms for rural water supply. Water Mission is Uptime’s sole partner contributing financial data from rural solar schemes and countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
Water Mission chairs the finance working group for the Safe Water Enterprise Community of Practice. Additionally, we have served on the steering committee of the Accord WASH Alliance for the past six years, sharing knowledge between WASH–oriented Christian relief and development agencies. Our in-house experts currently serve as the solar pumping topic lead for the Rural Water Supply Network’s sustainable groundwater development theme. We also actively contribute to knowledge–sharing forums such as the international WEDC conferences, UNC Water & Health: Where Science Meets Policy conferences, and SIWI World Water Week.
While our technical expertise receives the most attention, we have earned an equally impressive reputation for sustainability, as driven by our program development initiatives. Our program development staff comprises a global, integrated team focused on program delivery innovations, knowledge sharing, and implementation excellence. They focus on aspects beyond engineering, that when combined with high quality infrastructure and equipment, produce a sustainable outcome.
Each in-country program office is staffed with experts that focus on the areas of community engagement, water committee management training, health and hygiene promotion, behavior change communication, and monitoring and evaluation. Ideation begins in our country programs. Our program advisory team in Charleston, South Carolina, then develops, organizes, and shares programmatic best practices and innovations with staff around the world.
Solar–powered water projects implemented in rural communities under Water Mission’s Community Managed Plus program have sector–leading financial performance. Over 95% of our communities cover 100% of the operational and minor maintenance costs required by a solar pumping safe water system. Additionally, these communities save over 20% of the required capital maintenance replacement needs and store their savings in a financial institution.
Monitoring and Evaluation
We have developed a global monitoring and evaluation framework that measures performance and success. Our monitoring programs have been designed to be routine, taking advantage of monitoring technologies that keep data gathering costs low. Since our implementation models are standard across all our programs, we can compare performance across different cultures.
As part of our monitoring and evaluation program, we invested in an internal data management platform for collecting all community statistics and project performance data. We receive data through:
- manual forms completed at every project activity,
- community water committee financial documents, and
- satellite–based remote sensors.
All collected data is then displayed on our in-house Monitoring and Alerting Platform (MAP) developed with IBM. The MAP gives global staff real-time project information and sends key program alerts when project performance drops below approved standards. Currently, we actively monitor 275 projects in 14 countries.
Through remote satellite sensors, we are monitoring daily water flow, water quality (chlorine and turbidity), and borehole water level monitoring. We see borehole level monitoring as necessary in promoting further investment around solar pumping technology. Aside from costs, the biggest barrier to the comprehensive adoption of solar pumping technologies is the misconception that mechanized pumping will deplete aquifers. We believe that accurate monitoring of borehole levels is key to correcting and invalidating this misinformation.
Remote sensor technology has decreased the cost of monitoring and increased the accuracy of our data. In 2017, Water Mission made the commitment to included remote flow monitoring capabilities on all new projects.
Measuring outputs like water quality, water flow, and finances are easy. Measuring non-material aspects of a project have proven to be more challenging. The need to understand if water projects lead to desired outcomes, such as behavior change and greater well–being, led Water Mission to develop the Restore Survey tool.
Water Mission’s Restore Survey is a tool designed to routinely evaluate the impact of WASH in communities. We use it to collect data about a community’s strengths and weaknesses before, during, and after a project’s implementation cycle. This data allows us to assess a community’s management skills, socioeconomic, material, and emotional health, and knowledge and practice of healthy WASH principles.
In addition to guiding and measuring Water Mission’s work, this real-time data invites community members to directly address their challenges and independently drive positive, lasting change.
Data was collected in the community of St. Caroli, Kenya at baseline (before Water Mission began work in the community), and five months later when the project was being commissioned. Scores for management skills increased between baseline and the second data collection instance, indicating that the community perceives improvements in the community’s capacity to manage the project. Between these two data collection instances, Water Mission began WASH promotion training in the community. Scores for handwashing increased, but we identified a need for targeted support in the area of sanitation (scores stagnated).
The data collected from the Restore Survey allows Water Mission to customize our approach at the outset of a project, supports enhanced community collaboration throughout its implementation, and provides a baseline for accurately assessing the full impact of solutions over time. In addition to guiding and measuring Water Mission’s work, this real-time data invites community members to directly address their challenges and independently drive positive, lasting change.
How can we expand our partnership to meet our collective goal of serving more people with safe water:
- Increasing Quality and Quantity of Solar-Powered Solutions in Uganda and Tanzania
We have a unique and timely opportunity to build on the global solar pumping guidance work we have begun with UNICEF. By offering ongoing advanced professional training to government and development partner personnel, we will make an impact at both the national and decentralized levels in Uganda and Tanzania. Water Mission’s reputation in implementing and supporting solar powered water solutions in refugee settings in these countries has garnered the attention of national ministries and coordination agencies. It has also provided opportunities for coordinated capacity building. There is potential for Water Mission to collaborate with Grundfos, its distributors, and local technical training institutions to offer best-in-class, face-to-face training and internships to engineers and technicians. With funding for this initiative, we will be able to move quickly and achieve measurable impact in the quality of solar–powered water system programming within the Ugandan and Tanzanian water and humanitarian sectors.
2. Scaling Capacity and Reaching Grundfos’ 2030 Goal
Reaching and serving 300 million people will require more partners. It will necessitate greater capacity within new and existing partners. Crucial to this mission is leveraging both our strengths and networks for expansion:
a. Grundfos has the prestige to garner an audience in any setting; Water Mission has the data to prove that investment in high quality solar pumping technology is key to producing a reliable service.
b. Grundfos can help us tear down the barriers of competition between NGOs, so that further collaboration can be achieved; Water Mission has an entire division focused on this initiative. The Global Water Center will be our vehicle for driving knowledge sharing.
We thoroughly understand the holistic nature of successful water project implementation. Water Mission and Grundfos both have nuanced knowledge and skill sets that can we share with others. A combined approach with integrated strategies will culminate in greater impact.
3. Fostering Financial Success Across Communities
Together, Water Mission and Grundfos can share key knowledge that has led to financial success for rural communities equipped with Grundfos solar pumps. Our model, developed through PDJF-supported projects, has proven that when communities are given a reliable, high–level service, their willingness to pay increases to the point where they cover 100% of operational costs and save 20% of long-term replacement costs. This then leads to more solar pumping systems established globally.
4. Integrated Technology and Data
Our continued partnership will result in new technological collaborations. We believe that data will be a key driver in the rural WASH sector. A clear need is borehole water level monitoring. We believe that Grundfos can develop and integrate this technology within its pumps, eliminating the need for additional costly water level sensors within a borehole.
5. Innovative Financing Opportunities for Northern Uganda
Before us lies innovative financing opportunities to serve refugees in northern Uganda. We can implement AQtaps as part of ongoing O&M contracts with UNHCR: a part of a blended finance program for migrating refugee settlements from full UNHCR subsistence to settlements (host Ugandans and refugees) paying for water.
6. Growing as a Technical Advisor
To scale impact, Water Mission will need to grow its capacity to serve as technical advisors on projects with local governments and other development agencies, touching projects where Water Mission is not the primary implementer. Support for this initiative will allow Water Mission to have technical advisors on projects similar to the Buikwe district project. This will ensure that projects are implemented according to standards, yielding more sustainable, top quality work that is in accordance with Grundfos’ brand.
About Water Mission
Water Mission is a nonprofit Christian engineering organization that designs, builds, and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas. Since 2001, Water Mission has used innovative technology and engineering expertise to provide access to safe water for more than 4 million people in 56 countries. Water Mission has 350 staff members working around the world in permanent country programs located in Africa, Asia, North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. Notably, Charity Navigator has awarded Water Mission its top four-star rating 13 years in a row, a distinction shared by less than one percent of the charities rated by the organization.