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Innovative water pump system extended to The Gambia


A ground-breaking system monitoring water pumps in Africa – developed by a Leeds Beckett academic – is being trialled in The Gambia following a successful pilot in Sierra Leone.

Pump Installation in The Gambia

The state-of-the-art technology, which was developed by researchers in the School of Built Environment and Engineering and two Yorkshire businesses, monitors hand-operated water pumps and identifies when they are broken and communities have been cut off from water supplies.

The MANTIS - monitoring and analytics to improve service - system, has previously been field tested on ten pumps in Sierra Leone. The investigations have now been extended to The Gambia following a successful trial.

Lead researcher, and Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Engineering, Dr Andrew Swan said: “The latest field trials in Gambia have successfully demonstrated the MANTIS system works and can successfully detect a pump failure.

Andrew Swan

Dr Andrew Swan 

“We achieved this by using a streamlined monitoring approach that should enable an exceptionally long life-span compared to other remote monitoring systems under development.

“Ultimately these monitoring systems offer the potential to rapidly detect broken hand pumps so they can be repaired and people can continue to get easy access to water – even in isolated areas.”

A report by USAid found that up to 40 per cent of rural water systems in sub-Saharan Africa are out of use and fewer than five per cent of water infrastructure projects are revisited after installation – meaning broken pumps go undetected and unrepaired.

The MANTIS system is designed to transmit daily data to supervisory bodies, to ensure repairs are made swiftly.

Pump installation in The Gambia

Leeds Beckett worked alongside two technology SMEs based in Sheffield; Environmental Monitoring Solutions Ltd (EMS) and VisualWind Ltd.

Managing Director of EMS, Professor Pete Skipworth, said: “Our simple approach reduces power requirements, which enables the system to function for longer, and also reduce its production costs.

“Trials show that our prototype system works in the field, enabling us to fine tune the technology before we deploy it more widely.” 

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