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The EMAS concept is based on a variety of simple technologies such as manual drilling of deep wells, manual pumps built by users themselves, small impounding from springs, ferro cement tanks, sanitary installations and much more. The user learns these simple technologies, and therefore he can maintain and reproduce them himself. A very important factor in this concept is the training of drillers who are suppliers of drinkable water at local level. For many years, these professionals of rural areas offer their services to users and at the same time they transmit their skills to other students.

History & Social Context

EMAS well drilling

EMAS, or "Escuela Movil Aguas Y Saneamiento Basico" (Mobile school for drinking water and sanitation) was founded by Wolfgang Eligius Buchner to address the drinking water problem.

EMAS receives support from a group of volunteers from Munich, Germany. Although EMAS does not finance projects, it can give support - as a partner - to local initiatives by means of practical and theoretical training through the "learning - performing" method. Upon request, EMAS performs an advisory role in Latin America, Africa and Asia. EMAS also provides intensive training courses.

The Emas National Park (Portuguese: Parque Nacional das Emas, literally meaning "Rhea National Park") is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil.


The National Park is located between the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul in the Center-West Region of Brazil, between 17º50’—18º15’S and 52º39’—53º10’W. It covers 1,320 square kilometres (510 sq mi) of cerrado savannah. The park is in the Pantanal Biosphere Reserve, which also includes the Pantanal, Chapada dos Guimarães and Serra da Bodoquena national parks, and the Serra de Santa Bárbara, Nascentes do Rio Taquari and Pantanal de Rio Negro state parks. The surrounding area is dominated by large soybean plantations.

Flora and fauna

Emas National Park shows a typical cerrado ecosystem; a treeless savannah with tall termite houses and an interesting amount of wildlife: the giant anteater, the maned wolf, giant armadillo, pampas deer and the namesake greater rhea, among others.

Emas National Park also holds a small Jaguar population, perhaps consisting of about 10-12 animals. Only about 40% of the reserve, which covers 1,320 square kilometres (510 sq mi) in total, is good Jaguar habitat.

Other larger mammals include puma, ocelot, Brazilian tapir, collared peccary, white-lipped peccary, marsh deer, red brocket, gray brocket, black howler monkey and capybara.


EMAS has a strong focus on "assistance to self-help" and has designed a number of technologies that can be built from local materials in order to involve the communities in the development, including: the EMAS pump and the EMAS jetting method.


  • EMAS pump: These are manual pumps that the user easily learns to build, since they are made of PVC piping or of Polyethylene. The pressure or the water volume to be pumped can be determined varying the diameter of the cylinder. In Bolivia, the cost of a 12 meter length standard pump is of approximately 20 Euros. EMAS pumps are fit for multiple use. They are set up in wells drilled with a reduced diameter (EMAS system), engine operated drilled wells, hand excavated wells, cisterns, micro impounding and pumping plants. Their main advantage is that the user himself can build them and reproduce them with materials from the hardware store and at low cost. Once the well is clean and activated, the pump is installed. EMAS has developed this type of manual pump which is cheap, simple in its construction and maintenance and, most of all, it fits in a narrow well of only 1 1/2" diameter (EMAS well).
  • Pedal adapted EMAS pumps: There are 3 constructive types of pedal operated pumps designed by EMAS. It is useful because pedal work is less tiring than manual pumping. Differing from other patterns, EMAS pumps have the advantage of conveying water from a fairly good distance, or to elevate it to a height up to 40 meters. Pumps can be built for flow or height, merely varying the diameter of the cylinder.
  • Remote manual pumping with the EMAS pump: The EMAS concept is not only referred to pumps and cheap drilling, but to provide complete solutions, from the water source until reaching the faucet at your dwelling. The standard type EMAS pump ejects water with a pressure up to 5 bar, which means that it elevates water up to 50 meters height. With this pressure, water can be conveyed horizontally until 2 Km, provided that the dimension of the tube be sufficient. Until 500 m, pumping can be carried out with a 1/2" pipe.
  • Impounding from small springs: Some small springs can supply many dwelling, but because the filtration is weak the water is unusable. Where the springs are unprotected it could be better to impound the spring and set up a manual pump. For small springs, EMAS has tested the following types of impounding: A simple filtrating gallery built with stones and a 200 liters ferro cement "pitcher" ('cantarito') as a storage tank. In case the deposit does not have the necessary capacity, filtrating galleries may be set up around it, or several 'pitchers' may be used. If more than 1000 liters storage are needed, it is better to dig carefully around the spring until you have obtained a deposit that is large enough.
  • EMAS pattern "rooted" reservoir well : This technique is the ideal solution for areas with weak aquifers. Its cost is lower than that of the excavated well with full coating. It is more hygienic, has a higher yield and a safer excavation process.
  • The hydraulic ram: The hydraulic ram is a sort of a pump driven by the energy of water in motion itself. A ram is easy to build, it is endurable, it does not consume fuel, but it pumps only a small part of the water it uses (3 - 10%).The use of the hydraulic ram is limited, but whenever used, it is greatly profitable.
  • EMAS manual deep drilling: With this drilling method you can attain down to 100 meters depth in soils of fine material which do not contain stones. The drilling has only 2 inches diameter. The average yield of these EMAS wells is 1 liter per second, that is to say 3600 liters per hour.
  • EMAS drilling system by sucking: Manual deep drilling is made difficult when there are pebbles, small stones or thick sand present. The suction system can be used in that case.
  • EMAS multiwell: If the aquifer is good but quite deep then the EMAS multiple well can be the adequate solution. This is particularly appropriate if the community is distance and its access difficult.
  • EMAS Cisterns: the EMAS cisterns excel for their easy construction, low cost and life span. They are underground tanks coated with a thin layer of cement mortar and made waterproof with a pure cement whitewash.
  • EMAS latrine: The EMAS latrine has more advantages than a water closet with hydraulic entrainment because it is odorless, it is very economic because water is not spilled, it does not damage the aquifer, and its content becomes a good manure.
  • EMAS micro irrigation system: The EMAS system allows several kinds of irrigation. The most common one is by gravity in the furrow itself. First fill the tank, whether it is a 'pitcher' or several big ferro cement containers, and through piping, water is conveyed to the furrows.
  • Windmill with the EMAS pump: The EMAS pump can be easily adapted to windmills. These mills may be simple, since no gear is necessary for pumping, and this means a higher yield and less investment cost.
  • EMAS pattern solar heater with no tank: This pattern has been developed by EMAS specially for the Altiplano, where during winter nights frost is intense, and a beaming sun predominates during the day.

Videos and links

Many of the EMAS technologies can be seen on The EMAS Vimeo Channel