Afripump / Blue pump

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The Volanta pump with flywheel. Photo: RWSN.
The Afripump requires less maintenance. Photo:

The Volanta pump

The Volanta Pump, created DGIS in co-operation with by Jansen Venneboer B.V., is a reciprocating pump driven by a large flywheel for medium to very deep wells. It uses a retractable cylinder and a seal-less stainless steel piston. A crank and a connecting rod convert the rotary motion into a reciprocating action, which is transmitted to the plunger via stainless steel pump rods. The crankshaft and the flywheel run on ball bearings mounted on a plate that can be fixed to a steel or concrete pedestal. The cylinder is of glass fibre reinforced plastic with a close-fitting seal-less stainless steel plunger. The complete cylinder can be lifted from the well by the threaded pump rods, without removing the PVC-U rising main. The stroke is adjustable to reduce the effort needed at deep installations.

It is designed for heavy-duty use and the maximum recommended installation depth is 50 m.

The Volanta Pump is not in the public domain and information can be asked from the manufacturer. The Volanta Pump is fully corrosion resistant. It is rather difficult to install and it needs extensive masonry work. Regular maintenance is easy so that communities can care for the pumps.

The BluePump

The BluePump was designed by the FairWater Foundation with the input of many NGOs in Africa. A major contribution was given by Oxfam Kenya, that has tested the early models of the BluePump in it's handpump rehabilitation project in Turkana, Northern Kenya. After several modifications to adapt the BluePump for depth up to 100m deep, the BluePump is now considered by most international NGOs as the most reliable handpump, especially suited for deep boreholes. One of the special features of the BluePumps is that the PVC rising main can be extended below the cylinder with a so called "Bottom Support System" (BSS). The BSS takes the heavy load of the PVC pipes to avoid that they will break due to the pumping action.

In many parts of Africa the BluePump is also used to replace older handpumps. To make this a simple operation, the base-plate of the BluePump fits directly onto the old base-plate of the Afridev and India Mark pumps.

The key success of the BluePump is its reliability. This is due to it's simple and strong design and the fact that it basically needs no spare parts for many years. This means that communities have water for a very long time, at a very low price.

For the Operation & Maintenance (O&M) aspects of the BluePump FairWater recommends a regional approach, in which an Area Mechanic is involved already in the installation phase of the BluePump and gives additional back-up technical support in case needed. Training of the Area Mechanics and spare-parts supply is available with country dealers, who also have BluePumps in stock.

More info about the BluePump can be obtained by FairWater.

Why the BluePump is more reliable

Most other handpumps fail due to many technical reasons: The most common problem is worn out seals and broken pipes. Other problems are leaking foot valves and broken rods. With the BluePump most of these problems do not occur due to a better design.

  • The stainless steel rods are 12mm diameter and fully threaded,
  • The heavy duty strong bearings are maintenance free and may last up to 10+ years
  • The rising main is from high quality PVC,
  • For deep water levels the BluePump has a bottom support system,
  • The piston has no rubber seal and is 100 % maintenance free,
  • The foot valve has 2 stainless steel balls for double security.

The handle is extendable and can have a counter weight to compensate for the extra weight of the water and rods. Therefore pumping remains easy, also for children, even at great depth.

Suitable conditions

Distribution: Mainly in West African countries.
Some users find it difficult to start the pump. Small children have to stay away from this pump, because the area of the rotating flywheel can be a dangerous playground.

Piston nominal diameter: 50.0 mm
Approx. discharge
(75 watt input):
at 20 m head: 1.0 m³/hour

at 40 m head: 0.5 m³/hour
at 80 m head: 0.2 m³/hour

Pumping lift: 10 - 80 m
Population served: ~ 300 people
Households: 30 - 50 hh
Water consumption: 15 - 20 l/per capita
Type of well: borehole

Construction, operations and maintenance

Pump stand & flywheel are made of painted Mild Steel, the rising main consists of PVC-U pipes, the cylinder is made of glass fibre reinforced epoxy resin, plunger & the pump rods are of Stainless Steel and the valves of rubber. The pump is corrosion resistant.

The Volanta Pump is a protected product and is not intended for local manufacturing. However, there are countries where pumps are assembled and installed locally.

The installation of the Volanta Pump is rather difficult but does not need any lifting equipment. However, extensive masonry work is required and skilled installation crews are important.

This pump has a good “Community Management Potential”. Simple tools are needed to pull out the pumping element, including pump rod and foot valve. The seal-less piston means that no regular replacement of worn rubber seals is required.


Installation of the BluePump is easy and can be done by one technical person and one assistant. The BluePump comes standard with strong 70/80 m PVC rising mains and 12mm full threaded stainless steel rods. For the installations, no special tools or tripod is required. When the concrete base and drainage platform is ready, the metal stand is fixed on 6 anchor bolts and the pipes are glued and lowered into the borehole casing up to the desired depth. The handle is fitted to the base with 4 M16 bolts. The cylinder is lowered with the rods and the last rod is attached to the handle. The cover is put on and the pump is ready to use.

Based on the experience of BluePumps over the last 5 years, maintenance is limited to checking and occasionally tightening of some nuts & bolts, maybe applying paint from time to time, all other parts are maintenance free.

The BluePump can be considered as a VLOM pump(Village Level Operated & Maintained) because most of the few simple activities can be done by an Area Mechanic local available materials and require no special tools.


Studies show that families in rural communities will agree to pay 1 to 3 US$ per month for a reliable water supply, especially when there are no alternative nearby water sources available. One handpump can serve 25 to 50 families that need 125 to 250 buckets of 20 litres/day, which equals 3 to 6 hours of pumping. This is enough to pay 25 to 50 US$ per month for the supervisor, the remaining revenues are sufficient to pay back the loan fully in 3 to 5 years.

Manuals, videos and links

The main distributor of the BluePump is Boode waterwell systems.