Togo, West Africa
February 2006

 

I went to Togo with a team from Lifewater International in February 2006 to help train local people in repair of hand-operated water pumps. We worked near the towns of Kande and Bassar in central Togo.

The villages near Kande are in the Tamberma region, famous for the castle-like mud and thatch houses...

...many with idols ...

...and Baobab trees all around.

Larger towns (like Kande) have public spigots, even high ones to make filling easier.

In the villages where we worked, people get their water from manual hand pumps, ...

.. wells, ...

... or open streams and rivers.

Women get water in basins and carry it home, sometimes long distances.

One village had a gravity fed water system where water came from a spring up a hillside.
We were able to unclog the main pipe system. The picture below shows the water flowing again from a village spigot after more than a year of being blocked.

Many of the village pumps are broken. The most common pump in that area is called a UPM pump. (Randy Cram, of Rotary Club, Mason City, Iowa is in the baseball cap.)

Many of the pumps had been installed during the 1990s, and you could see they had been heavily used. Most of them were working either very poorly or not at all. Here we are clearing out weeds around a pump that has not been in use for a while.

The most common problem was that the membrane on the piston inside the pump, which is the valve of the pump, had disintegrated, and so the pump no longer worked. One of the pistons is shown below. They are no longer manufactured.

We were able to repair some pumps with refurbished parts. If we were able to repair a pump...

...it was soon in use.

In the Bassar region, some villages had foot operated pumps.

One village we visited had two – one broken, and one working poorly (low flow rate), so the water line was long.

Lifewater worked with Peace Corps workers and Rotary Club members to help fund projects to replace broken pumps with newer, more maintainable Mark II pumps. A pb-Mark II pump is shown below. This one is in need of repair, but at least parts are available.

We often met with village chiefs to discuss repairs, and obtain permission to work on the pumps.

Here are some of the members of our team -- from left to right, Pastor Bill Logan and Fred Henderson from Ridgecrest, CA, Pastor Pierre and Pastor Boutouli from Togo, and missionary Mike Hebert, serving near Kara.

Another picture of Pastor Boutouli, Pastor Pierre, and Mike Hebert.

Team leader Garon Harris.

and me, Wayne Niblack.

And here are some local people – beautiful, colorful, humble, friendly.

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