Clean Water Access




The Kalalé District of Benin in West Africa is home to 180,000 people and has historically had very limited access to clean drinking water. When SELF began work there, the region had only 113 water sources that were considered sanitary. Those who couldn’t fetch water from one of these sources on foot often turned to unsanitary sources closer to home, such as streams or open wells. 

SELF began work in the region in 2011, installing 20 sanitary wells to improve clean water access. However, with such a great need, we knew that more needed to be done. With a grant from The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), SELF has been able to provide 24 new solar-pump water stations to villages across the district. 

The solar-pumping systems are direct drive, meaning they do not rely on batteries. During the day, solar electricity is generated to pump water from an aquifer to an elevated reservoir. After sundown, water stored in the reservoir is delivered by gravity—making water accessible any time of day.  



The systems’ other advantages include: 

Technical Reliability 

With only a few moving parts, the likelihood of having to replace the pumps within the next 10 years is low. If that should happen, however, spare parts will be on hand, and, if necessary, they can be sourced in-country. 

Reliable Water Output 

Before installing solar pumping equipment, we test well bore holes to ascertain their viability and water pressure. 


SELF works with the local communities to set up a fee collection system whereby water users pay a small, affordable fee for watera common practice in the region. With the fee system, the water stations are fully sustainable, meaning they have the potential to generate enough funds to cover maintenance and repairs indefinitely.  





Residents Yerima and Cherifa talk about water station installed in their village of Danganzi in Benin: 

“Before the water station, we had to travel to Marigot [a nearby village] for our water for cooking, drinking, and cleaning. The problem was that we noticed the water from Marigot had organisms—larvae of all kinds—that were growing in our water jars. We had to consume the water anyway. Our children got sick all the time with diarrhea and other maladies. They had little sores all over their skin. It was sad to see them suffer.” 


“In the old, open well, we found things you couldn’t imagine—animal carcasses, plastic packaging, wood debris, and mosquitoes. We took a lot of risks just for a basin of water. Since the water station was installed, we need only turn on the faucet, and we instantly have water—and it’s clean. Now, we don’t have to search for water in dangerous places. We only have to spend a little time meeting our needs for water. The rest of the time we can work in the fields or do other things.”



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SELF is a global leader in the fight against energy poverty. Since 1990, we’ve pioneered unique applications for solar energy, powering progress on food security, health care, education, gender equity, and more. 

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