Partnerships and new technology are key for sustainable water supply in refugee camps

Our partnership with Grundfos and DTU ensures sustainable drinking water for refugees in Uganda through water stations powered by solar cells.
 
 

21.03.2019

The sun shines down on the refugee camp Bidibidi in northern Uganda. It is one of the largest refugee camps in the world with more than 250,000 refugees from South Sudan living in the dry area.

A bunch of people are gathering around a water station in the middle of the refugee camp. An older woman in a blue dress is filling up her plastic container with clear drinking water. Two boys and a young woman with a baby on her back are waiting in line to fill up their water containers.

“We have two water stations in Bidibidi refugee camp and two water stations in the small village close by where some of the refugees also live. The four water stations were all installed by Grundfos,” says Anders Bastholm Hansen, Danish Refugee Council's programme manager in Uganda.

Bidibidi camp - sustainable water station

A water station consists of a pump that is dug into the ground and powered by a solar cell-based generator. Grundfos has been producing pumps since 1945 and sees a great business opportunity investing in sustainable water solutions in refugee camps.

Sustainable and long-term water solution

In the past water used to be driven into Bidibidi refugee camp every day by water trucks. However, it is far more sustainable to construct permanent water supply systems with pipe installations. We know this for a fact thanks to a research project done by researchers at DTU, the Technical University of Denmark.

The research project by DTU has been based in Bidibidi refugee camp to compare 16 different water supply systems from water trucks to hand pumps and motorized pumps powered by solar energy and diesel.

The result from DTU is clear. It makes more sense, both in economical and sustainable terms, to install permanent water stations in refugee camps.

Anders Bastholm Hansen agrees: "Water trucks are an extremely expensive way to get water into the refugee camp. Water trucks should only be used in the very first emergency response phase. We need to apply sustainable and long-term water solutions as soon as possible.”

A lot of benefits

Water stations in the refugee camp ensures a better life for the refugees. Now they are sure to have access to water.

And there are a lot more benefits Anders Bastholm Hansen says: "The water stations offer less water waste and less waiting time. Before the water trucks got stuck in the mud when it rained so that the water could not get through to the camp.”

The water stations come equipped with water ATMs where the refugees can pay for their own water with a chip card. The payment option helps pave the way for an independent and sustainable water solution with water stations in the long run.