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Initial Cost or Total Cost of Ownership: Page 2


Purchase Cost

Each page in this section is standalone. But they do form an integrated logic.

The Problem

Changing Basic Concepts

SP v Competitors: Intro
- True Dollar Costs
- Reliability as Purchase Factor
- Added Risk
- In Summary

Reliable Water or Local Manufacturing - Which?

Install on Existing Pump Pedestal

In buying any pump, the cost of parts for normal maintenance in the foreseeable future must be reckoned as part of the purchase. According to a project approved by seven water NGO peers at, including one from CARE, the cost of spares to sustainably maintain Mark II/III/VLOM pumps is estimated at $590 (1). Comparable costs for the Simple Pump are in the tens of dollars. This extra cost of spare parts, alone, eliminates the apparent savings seen when solely comparing the initial acquisition costs.

Site Preparation Costs

The Installation and Maintenance Manual for the AFRIDEV Handpump says:

“The construction of a platform (or slab) at the wellhead is an important contribution to the general hygiene in a community. In addition to discouraging the accumulation of stagnant water at the surface, the slab will help to prevent the contamination of the well through the infiltration of dirty water back into the aquifer.”

The advice is similar for Mark II/III/VLOM pumps.

While we would never say that any one approach to site preparation should be used universally, our experience shows that, most of the time, our pump, anchored firmly to a metal well casing, in a wellbore of some depth, avoids contamination problems. Unlike very wide-mouth hand-dug wells, water that pools near such a deeper wellbore, and its well casing holding the Simple Pump, has no better chance of contaminating the aquifer than does a pool 20 meters away.

The Mark II/III/VLOM and AFRIDEV pumps, by design, MUST be sunk into concrete. Yet, if in many situations, the cement platform is not required when installing a Simple Pump, the platform is a cost paid solely for AFRIDEV pump installation.

Drilling Costs

Cost of drilling a wellbore for a four-inch casing, the smallest-diameter casing used for the Mark II/III/VLOM, is around 3.5 times the cost of drilling a wellbore for the two-inch well casing required by a Simple Pump. This extra cost, alone, can easily swamp the apparent savings seen when solely comparing the acquisition costs.

For example Canada posts drilling cost averages for five countries. They are quite reasonable. $3,000 is the lowest cost estimate per well, for those five countries. Therefore, conservatively, drilling costs for a wellbore for a Simple Pump would cut $2,000 from the cost of drilling one well!

A number of studies cited at the Rural Water Supply Network Community site show overall water hand pump project costs for Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya between $6,000 and $11,700. Two studies, for Burkina Faso and Senegal, estimate the average cost of borehole construction without the pump. The costs were $46.34/foot, or $3,200, for a 70-foot well in Burkina Faso, with Senegal's average cost more than three times higher.

There are some geological formations in which the four-inch wellbore typically drilled for the Simple Pump's two-inch casing is not practical. One example is much of Tanzania, where the formations are so sandy that a four-inch wellbore collapses. However, a four-inch wellbore drilled for the Simple Pump's smaller two-inch casing is workable for most wells in most geological formations in Africa.

Therefore, the apparent saving for the initial purchase of a Mark II/III/VLOM pump is offset by costs many times that to drill a borehole for a four-inch casing, rather than for Simple Pump's two-inch diameter casing. THIS ONE FACTOR has already countered the initial apparent savings.

Transport and Installation Costs

Simple Pump's 95-130 pounds shipping weight, including PVC, means that transport of the pump to the wellbore is much less expensive; a comparable representative Mark II weight is 330 lbs. Because of its heavy weight, three men are required to install a Mark II pump. As these videos show, one man can install a Simple Pump quite easily.

Ease of installation has been demonstrated repeatedly. In the words of one of our customers who installed our pump in Africa:

"Having never installed a water pump, I was looking for something that was not going to take a rocket scientist to be able to understand the directions... We were able to finish in less than an hour without any major problems."