Solar Powered Water Pump in Village Nasrullah Sand, Tharparkar

Project Overview

Tharparkar comprises of an area of 22,000 square kilometres with a population of more than 1.4 million and about 5 million livestock heads. The region is entirely dependent upon rainfall and that is annually recorded from 09 to 350 millimeters. Every few years, it experiences a severe drought and one famine almost every decade. The primary source of drinking water is underground wells.

Easy access to safe drinking water is an acute problem in District Tharparkar affecting the life style, health and livelihood of the local communities. Women and children are usually responsible for obtaining water from dug wells and this can take up to 3-4 hours every day. Moreover, the open dug wells are at risk of getting contaminated by external particles increasing the vulnerability of the local population to water borne diseases.

The proposed project aims to provide safe drinking water by using alternative energy to improve health, hygiene, income earning potential and the overall well-being of villagers belonging to Nasrullah Sand. Specific objectives include improving health and hygiene of the local community and reducing absenteeism and drop-out ratio among school going age children through easy availability of safe drinking water. The proposed work envisages installing one solar pump on an existing dug well. A Solar PV system operated pump will drag out underground water from a depth of 250 feet which will be stored in a storage tank for further distribution through pipelines to each household. To promote water conservation and revenue generation for maintenance, a nominal user fee will be charged from households.

Total beneficiaries will include 248 members of the community (69 male, 82 female, 97 children – 45 boys and 52 girls) covering 48 households.

NGO Profile

AWARE was formed in 2003 with its area of operations spanning many parts of the Sindh province. The organization draws its members from different walks of life particularly teaching, journalism, development, agriculture and social activists. Through its projects, AWARE has significant experience in water resources management; availability, access and quality in Tharparkar. It also has experience of project implementation through the participatory approach in conjunction with national and international organizations.

Key Metrics

Easy access/reduced burden: The project aims to improve access to clean drinking water by reducing the existing burden on the community; especially women and children. For this purpose, the number of hours spent collecting water (number of people from each household) before and after project completion will be compared.

Beneficiaries: The total number of people/ households which will get easy access to safe drinking water. It will be seen whether the daily consumption requirements of each family are met through this project.

School drop-out/attendance rates: The impact of the project on the school drop-out/attendance rates of children will be measured

Longevity: The number of years this project will benefit the local community

Scalability: This project will be treated as a pilot project for ADP. Using the metrics mentioned above, it will be determined whether the use of the Solar PV technology was successful and if it makes sense to implement similar projects in surrounding villages

Investment Rationale

The proposed project is a cost effective way to fulfill a critical need of this village in Tharparkar and can positively impact the health, hygiene, income earning potential and overall well-being of the villagers, in particular women and children. AWARE has demonstrated expertise in the areas of water management and  renewable energy and can prove to be a long term partner for ADP, helping set up similar systems in other villages of the area.



 Q 1)      Is this the most cost effective way to resolve the problem at hand? What are the procedural issues to consider and is the affected community excited about the project?

Other means of ground water retrieval were considered:

  • Hand pumps are not viable because clean drinking water is available at a depth of 230 feet or lower.
  • Tube-wells are expensive as their running costs are linked to the price of petroleum products and are not environmentally friendly. Electricity is also an issue.
  • Windmills have been used by AWARE in the past and though it is a good solution, winds are low during the winter and water supply can be inconsistent.
  • The community, especially women, was quite excited about the project according to the site visit by members of the Institute for Social Change. Water is the top priority in the village and families look forward to utilizing the 3-5 hours saved by the solar powered pump in other activities.

 Q 2)      Do the villagers possess the willingness and ability to pay for the services?

Though each household will have to pay a significant percentage of its monthly income as user fees, the site visit revealed that the community felt that the cost would be worth the time saved for other activities and freeing up their livestock for more economically productive tasks.

 Q 3)      Water quality:

The water quality of the dug well selected is not optimal (total dissolved solids (TDS) 1200 mg/l). However, there are no issues with fluoride or heavy metal contamination and this is the best available source of water.

 Q 4)      What is the maintenance cost associated with this project? Who will take care of this maintenance?

Solar pumps have a high initial cost but in AWARE’s experience, there are no frequent maintenance or recurring costs. In a desert like Thar, cloudy days are few.  The minimum life of solar panels is 25 years and the pump’s life is 10 years.

 Q 5)      What is the model that is being followed in this project? How will the villagers get easy access to water?

The proposed work envisages installing one solar pump on an existing dug well. A Solar PV system operated pump will drag out underground water from a depth of 250 feet which will be stored in a storage tank for further distribution through pipelines to each household. As part of the project, AWARE also plans to have awareness sessions with the community in which it will emphasize the importance of hygiene as well as the re-introduction of children into schools (as they will not be spending hours collecting water anymore). In addition, an operator will be selected for operating the solar pump system in consultation with the community. The Operator will be trained on operation of system and billing procedure etc. A tool kit will also be given along with a manual of O&M for smooth running of the water supply system. At the community level, Water User Committees (WUC) will be formed and members of the Committee will be sensitized on water conservation and importance of WASH while linking it with health.

Q 6)      Will pumping water from one well have an adverse effect on the water table?

No. The existing wells in the village are not at great distances from each other and research shows that extracting water from one or more than one well in the same vicinity will not have an effect on the water table.

Q 7)      Once this project is complete, what will the other wells in the village be used for?

The villagers will be able to use these wells for non-drinking purposes like washing clothes etc.

 Q 8)      ADP recently funded a rainwater harvesting project for a village in the Thar Desert. Why is ADP funding a different model for a village having similar geography?

The village where the rainwater harvesting structures were created did not have wells that had safe drinking water within the vicinity of the village. The women and children were making several trips a day to get water from a source a few kilometers outside the village. In this case, the water of the wells in the village is not contaminated. The problem is more of extracting water from the deep wells.

 Q 9)      What do we know about AWARE and why has ADP decided to partner with it for this particular project?

AWARE has demonstrated experience of working with alternative energy and has worked on other successful water management projects in the regions. Other organizations that have worked with AWARE including WHO and Water Aid gave positive feedback on the quality of AWARE’s work.

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