Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hydraulic Ram Pump Workshop at Sant Lakay, MPP (Farmer Movement of Papaye)

All in all, I guess it was worth spending the five hours in customs.

Dieu-la Joseph, agronomist in charge of MPP's Road to Life and Moringa yard garden project, creates a sipper valve as part of the Hydraulic Ram Pump Workshop offered by MPP at their national training center in Papaye, Hinche (Haiti). The workshop was led by Buzz Durham from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina. Funds for the project came from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). All photos by Mark Hare and Herve Delisma. Used by permission.

Buzz Durham came back to Haiti in September as part of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church's ongoing commitment to explore with MPP (Farmer Movement of Papaye) the potential of hydraulic ram pumps as tools for rural families to produce more and live better. This time, Buzz came to give a workshop.

This was Buzz's third trip and, as always, it was an adventure. It started this year as it did last year--in the Dominican Republic. Thursday, September 11th, the day after Jenny, Keila, Annika and I picked Buzz up at the Santo Domingo International airport, Buzz went by himself (with a friend of ours driving him) to an irrigation supply store in the capital to check out the supplies of polyethylene irrigation pipe. He came back from the store with a 300 foot roll of approximately 2" pipe (4 Atm) and a roll of 600 feet of approximately 3/4" pipe (also 4 Atm), together with two essential fittings. Both rolls, together with the fittings, cost a total of around $US 230. That is, on average, less than $0.30 a foot. This was articularly impressive since Buzz speaks only very basic Spanish.

Here are three previous posts related to the work with hydraulic ram pumps in Haiti:

2012 Installing the hydraulic ram pump in Léodiagüe
2012 Installing hydraulic ram pump in Léodiagüe

2013 Looking at problems with the pump in Léodiagüe
2013 Looking at problems with hydraulic ram pump in Leodiagüe, Hinche

2013 Checking out possibilities for the pump in Verettes and Léogâne (Pump and Biochar workshops)
2013 Hydraulic Ram Pump work


Clemson plan for hydraulic ram pump
Clemson plan for hydraulic ram pump

With that accomplished, Jenny, Keila, Annika and I headed home to Barahona Thursday PM, with Buzz and our pipe.

Saturday morning, Buzz and I loaded up the project Landcruiser with our luggage and the pipe. Buzz's luggage consisted of a few clothes, an inflatable mat and lots of spare plumbing parts for all of the contingencies that he had been able to imagine. We got to the border with Haiti, Jimaní on the DR side, Malpasse on the Haitian, and got through the Dominican migration procedures pretty quickly. And then we hit Haitian customs.

We started the Haitian customs procedures for the pipe around 12:30 PM. We left customs with the necessary paperwork by 5:20 PM. We were not the last ones out the door. I have no words.

On our way to Croix des Bouquets, about two hours west from the border, we had those papers checked twice by Haitian authorities. It may be my imagination, but at least one of those times, I thought the officer was disappointed that the paperwork was so clear. (I know for sure that on the Dominican side some of the officers on the border are disappointed. The time before last, as I was moving on out from the border, one officer said "Your paperwork is always  perfect. Can't you give us something to keep us happy?")

After turning north at Croix des Bouquets, there were no more checks, and we arrived in Hinche with no glitches. Just very late.

On Sunday, after resting in the morning, we  parked the vehicle at Basen Zim (Bassin Zim) and walked up to Leodiagüe to talk with the brothers Wilner and Wilus about re-installing the pump on Palma "river," the stream that flows near their respective homes. All of the parts for the pump we installed in 2012 were still available, but the PVC pipe that brought the water to the pump had gotten beat up too much by the rainy season flash floods. And Wilner, who had been keeping the pump functional, now works in another part of the country--down the road from Malpasse, in fact. So part of our discussion was whether Wilus, who would participate in the workshop, was willing to take full responsibility for maintaining the system. The big advantage with the new installation, we hoped, was that we would be using the polyethylene flexible pipe, that can flow with the movement of the water, rather than the original rigid PVC pipe, which had to absorb the force of the water every time the stream flooded. Wilus was willing to commit to that responsibility. Wilner said that he and Wilus had already talked about it.

On Monday, Buzz and Carel, an MPP driver and I headed to Port au Prince. In Mirebalais, we picked up two MPP civil engineers--Junior and Markendy. Together we went to Eko Depot (Eko Depot-Web site) and picked out all of the parts for a 1" pump. Eko Depot had all of the parts. Below is an image of the purchase.

Then we ate lunch and checked out another well-stocked hardware store, MSC Plus (Google Maps-MSC Plus). A random check of prices indicated that the parts were actually cheaper at MSC Plus.

Finally, we picked up some #18 wire for building cisterns in Léogâne, and we drove home.

Tuesday  morning, Buzz and Junior added some valves to the large open fish cistern that was to serve as our water source for the pump, so that the water could either go to the pump, or drain out into the banana field across the way. I worked with Herve ("Tiga") to put together a packet of materials for the participants.

The valves that Buzz and Junior added to the system to make it useable for the hydraulic ram pump demonstration. Photo by Buzz Durham. Used by permission.

By 4 PM Tuesday, most of the participants had arrived. They were an interesting mix. We had two folks from the farmer organization ODEPOL in Léogâne (Serge and Esterne), three participants from two farmer organizations in Verettes (Mario, Givenson and Mathurin) and two from the farmer organization MPB in Bayonnais, Gonaïves (Merladette and Lechenn). We had a missionary working with agriculture in Petit Gôave (Clint Bower) and his family, a mission worker for Christian Veterinary Misison (Rhoda Beutler), two farmers from MPP (Herve and Wilus), an agronomist from MPP (Dieu-la Joseph) and the two civil engineers (Junior and Markendy). That would be a total of eight different organizations, counting Buzz and myself from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and four or five different professions, depending on your definitions.

With the day just about finished, we gave an introduction to the workshop by way of a role play. We divided folks up and asked them to imagine they were visiting a farmer in a remote community who was worried about declining production (which he mostly blames on lack of rain), problems making the water safe for his family--one child in particular was sick almost continuously. "Ti Pyè" also was worried about bad roads. His wife had almost died of cholera the year before because he had to take her down the mountain on a horse.

The challenge to the three groups we formed was to come up with some long term recommendations for MPP as an organization as well as some medium term ideas or recommendations for the local animators (or community development workers/advocates). Finally, although we said it wasn't the real reason for their visit, we asked them to imagine what ideas or hope they might provide for the family before they left--something that could make some difference in their lives right now, however small that difference might be.

We were not so concerned with the answers that the groups came up with. Rather, our hope was to stimulate their imaginations and put them in the right frame of mind for the workshop. The pumps can be a resource in certain kinds of circumstances, but what is most important about working with farmers is learning to look at all the resources a family or a community may have, and help people find ways they can use everything they have more effectively to produce more and live better.

Buzz going through the parts of the pump before turning participants loose.

Wednesday AM we began in full measure working with the pumps. Buzz began by going through all of the parts. Then each team of five participants got parts to put together their own pump. They were free to put it together and take it apart as many times as necessary until each person was comfortable with the ways the parts go together. The team that put together the 1" pump eventually added Teflon tape and screwed everything down completely. About 11 AM we all headed down to the zone of big fish cisterns and started putting the parts together--the drive line, the pump and the feed line. The feed line was 1/2" irrigation tubing that Buzz had gotten as a donation from a greenhouse supplies store in the Asheville area. Every single other part or piece was purchased in Haiti, off the shelf.

Buzz helping Mathurin from Belé, Verettes assemble a pump.

 Mario, from Dofine, Verettes, helping Lechenn assemble the pump.

All put together. From top right to bottom left: impulse valve, sipper valve, one-way valve, nipple, T junction. The air chamber (3' long 4" pipe, sealed) will screw into the top of this T-junction. The end (bottom left) will lead to the feed line, taking the water to where you want it to go.

Installing the pump. Clint is tightening the junctions while Lechenn stabilizes the air chamber. The green cistern in the back is the fish tank that provides the water for the pump. The feedline will be the red coiled pipe to the bottom right. Buzz got this as a donation from a nursery supply business in Asheville. Every single other piece was purchased in Haiti, off the shelf.

Everything except the feed line. No standpipe yet.

With everything put together, Buzz started the pump. And it worked! Wilus climbed up a tall Leucaena tree and the water went up and up! But then the pump would stop. Pump, pump, pump, stop. Start it again: pump, pump, pump, stop. By then it was time for lunch and we agreed to start again at 3:00 PM to brainstorm what was going on.

At 3 we did come together and Buzz asked us to think together to make a list observing everything they had seen. One thing we saw was that the pump DID work, but it would stop. We also saw that there was a pipe in the fish tank that kept the fish from going down the pipe, which was mostly good, but it also seemed like it might be restricting the water flow. And on. Everyone participated, everyone had something they observed. Tiga observed that we had talked about putting in a standpipe, which keeps the return shock wave from blocking water flow.

With all of the ideas down on paper, we split up into the three teams and each team was given two or three things they would do. One idea that came out was to try a larger pump--1 1/4", rather than 1". I worked with that team. Another team took the pipe protecting the fish and cut more holes in it, to let the water flow through more freely. The third team went to work installing a standpipe.

By the time my team got down with the larger dimensions pump, the standpipe team had saved the day! Just putting more holes in the vertical pipe in the cistern that keeps the fish out had not worked, although it kept the pump pumping longer before it stopped. The standpipe, on the other hand, solved the problem entirely. The pump pumped and pumped and pumped.

Now everyone wanted to see how high the pump could pump. They asked Wilus to climb up MPP's radio transmitter tower. And he agreed, the nut. Eyeballing the height, from down by the pump up to the highest point the water would still come out the workshop participants estimated at least 80 feet elevation. The drop from the cistern to the pump was between 7 or 8 feet, so 80 feet of height is plausible. In general, the standard hydraulic ram pump is supposed to be able to push water ten times higher than the drop of the water that propels it.

Wilus with the end of the feed line, around 80 feet above the pump. This pump is a resource for MPP at their training center, to provide them with a demonstration point for folks interested in the technology.

Thursday, September 11th the workshop moved out into the field, up to Léodiagüe and Palma River. Buzz went with the 1 1/4" pump freshly put together on Wednesday and his team removed the entire original pump, reinstalled the drive line and repaired the standpipe. My team rolled out 300 feet of flexible black pipe (after removing with a great deal of caution, a full-grown mesquite tree that had been cut and left right in the stream bed). We also re-built the sand sack dam. Together we all installed the feed line (the 3/4" polyethylene pipe) and worked most of the air out of the supply line pipe. Then, we started the pump. Buzz and I felt much trepidation as we did, because we had worked very very hard the first time, with Wilner, Wilus and their cousin, Julien, to get a tiny trickle of water out of that first system. We were happily astounded, to say the least, when on the first try, the new system started pumping water, a small but steady stream, rather than a trickle. Ecstatic would be a good description. Dumbfounded might also work.

Buzz supervising while Rhoda connects the supply line to the standpipe. Julien, Wilus's cousin and neighbor, keeping things stable. The galvanized pipe leading out (down) from the standpipe is the drive line that feeds the water with all its force to the pump.

Installing the new pump.

Unrolling the flexible pipe, about 300 feet of supply line, upstream to the source.

Wilus got hold of about 3/4 sack of cement to add to the sand/dirt. We mixed it all up and filled about seven large sacks.

Givenson from Desarmes, Verettes, putting the last sand-dirt-cement filled sack in place.

Esterne from Orange, Léogâne with a piece of pipe lined with screen, put on the end of the supply line to keep junk out.

Turning the Palma River pump on. The valve spilling out the water is the impulse valve.

 Buzz congratulating Wilus and Lechenn on a beautiful job.

 Herve and Wilus, farmers from MPP, evaluating the workshop Thursday PM.

Left to right, Mathurin (yellow shirt) from Bele, Verettes, Givenson Laurent (Desarmes, Verettes) and Mario (Dofine, Verettes) evaluating the workshop.

 Markendy Labady (white t-shirt) and Junior Lapaix, the two MPP civil engineers evaluating the workshop.

With plenty of time to pat ourselves on the back, we ate dinner at Wilus's home, then most of the crew trekked down the hill to bathe in Bassin Zim. Carel, the MPP driver had already left to drive around and pick up the team by the water. After bathing in Palma river, I drove the second of the two vehicles back around, doing an errand or two along the way. By the time I got back, we were ready to have a final meeting to review everything we had learned, and to do evaluations. All in all it was kind of an amazing workshop. All in all, I guess it was worth the five hours in customs.

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