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Serving 250K Refugees with Largest Solar Water Project

Aerial view of part of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania

Water Mission and the Poul Due Jensen Foundation (Grundfos Foundation) are teaming up to deliver safe water to 250,000 Congolese and Burundian refugees living in three camps in Western Tanzania. Being built in close coordination with the government of Tanzania and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the project will be the world’s largest solar-powered pumping solution ever built.

Making this work possible, the Poul Due Jensen Foundation, owner of Grundfos, the Denmark-based global leader in pump technology, has committed $5.3 million over the next three years.

Our overarching goal is to provide access to safe drinking water for refugees living in the Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli refugee camps. Ensuring sustainability, we will incorporate Grundfos’ renewable pumping technologies that will operate nearly 100 percent of time from solar power. Since 2008, Water Mission has installed over 1,000 solar-powered pumps in disaster relief and community-managed projects.

Solar Power Safe Water Systems setup and operating in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania.

Safe water flowing from a tap in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania.

Water Mission will lead the engineering side of the project in collaboration with UNHCR and will work directly with other partners as needed. The project schedule includes site evaluation of each of the three camps, design, implementation, ongoing operation, and research studies to track impact.

“The high volume, sustainable solution is a result of Grundfos’ innovation in solar pumping technology,” says George Greene IV, president and chief operating officer of Water Mission. “Their commitment and generosity are going to help deliver safe, drinkable water to the camps where people will settle indefinitely or even permanently. Our sincerest thanks go to the Poul Due Jensen Foundation for their long-standing partnership.”

In addition to the engineering aspects of the project, our community development and other technical staff will document critical outcome areas including the operational savings using solar power versus costly diesel fuel, the impact of safe water on lives in the camps, and the overall medical cost savings as a result of safe water.

“Water Mission proves time and again that they are a world-class nonprofit because they deliver the quality and quantity of water in a customized engineering approach. We are proud of our history of successfully collaborating with the Water Mission team.”

Christian Hartvig
Executive Director of the Poul Due Jensen Foundation

Young boy drinks safe water from a tap in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania.

History of Partnership and Work in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp

In the fall of 2015, Water Mission began working with UNICEF Tanzania to assess the water and sanitation needs in the refugee camps. Our engineers and in-country staff worked alongside UNHCR and their partners to design and install one of the largest water treatment systems we had ever implemented. At that time, the focus was on the Nyarugusu camp, and we provided potable water to a population of 25,000 Burundian refugees.

In less than three weeks, Water Mission transported equipment from our Dar-es-Salam office to Nyarugusu; installed four 15,000 liter settling tanks, ten Living Water Treatment Systems, and eight kilometers of distribution pipe; and had water flowing and accessible to 25,000 refugees at 24 access points throughout the camp. During this initial project, Water Mission engineers and technicians worked alongside 300 Burundian workers who laid the distribution pipe. Today, the system continues to operate at optimum performance.

Solar Powered Safe Water Treatment Equipment setup in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania.

Setting up Solar Power Safe Water Treatment Equipment in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania

For progress on the Tanzania Project, follow @water_mission, @UNHCRTanzania and #Nyarugusu. Learn more about solar-powered pumping for safe water treatment projects.

About the Poul Due Jensen Foundation

The Poul Due Jensen Foundation was established in 1975 and is the majority shareholder in Grundfos. It funds sustainable, resilient, and affordable safe water projects in poor rural communities in developing countries and refugee camps. The main purpose of the Foundation is to ensure and support healthy economic growth and development of the Grundfos Group. To learn more, visit poulduejensenfoundation.com.