Priming the pump for clean water

Engineering Student of the Year, Michael Kennedy, has put his prize money towards a worthwhile project. For the third year running, INA Bearing sponsored the Award for engineering undergraduates. Key themes for the competition are innovation and the practical application of the project.

Michael had been raising funds to be able to join Crosslink International, a not-for-profit, private organisation that relies on self-financing volunteers to do its work. Hence his prize money made the job of raising sufficient funds that much easier.

Working with the United Nations, Crosslink International is involved on a number of projects and Michael joined one in Uzbekistan. The project was part of a wider programme in the Aral Sea region, involving some 12,000 inhabitants, striving to meet the community’s urgent needs in the interrelated areas of rural water supply, ecology and health. Working within a small team, which included engineers, a doctor and nutritionist, Michael became involved in providing potable water for communities in the Karakalpak area – more specifically, in providing a clean water supply to the Mangit region.

Open wells were contaminated by human and animal waste falling into them. Sealed hand pumps provided a simple solution, but design and other problems meant WHO standards were not met. Other pump problems were due to lack of understanding of the concept of quality during installation.

In addition to educating the Uzbeks about the importance of `quality’, the project included a critical design appraisal of the existing pump design. Michael was responsible for this and was able to make a number of recommendations which helped to improve the design.