SEP Waterpump Project

Location: Freetown, Sierra Leone |

We are Hannah, Daniel, and Hidde. We are three students who are in Sierra Leone for three months to improve water pumps and conduct market research at schools. We are doing this as part of our minor, "International Entrepreneurship and Development," at the TU Delft. We are collaborating with the company SEP-SL (Strategic Entrepreneurship Program Sierra Leone). The vision of this social enterprise is to promote entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone, focusing specifically on safe drinking water, agriculture, and the textile sector.

SEP-SL has been able to install fourteen pumps in recent years, but the water pumps in Freetown need some attention. Currently, 90% of these pumps do not function as they should. They are made by local residents without proper quality control and tools. This leads to many pumps breaking down quickly, leaving hundreds of people without acces to clean drinking water. The pumps are not well-maintained due to the high costs of both purchase and maintenance, this is one of the challenges we will be tackling.


We are now in week 7 of our project in Sierra Leone and have passed the halfway point! We have reached several milestones, and the biggest milestone is coming up soon. We spent the first month of the project researching the cause of the broken pumps. This often came down to a lack of knowledge and responsibility among the users. The pump is designed for a user group of up to 50 people, with one family responsible for it. However, many of our pumps were installed at schools where sometimes more than 1000 children were around.

Next, we spoke with two experts who told us that the pumps were installed on the wrong wells. The open wells make the pump very susceptible to damage, so we are now setting up a pilot where we will install the pump on a borehole. Our pump is designed for this purpose.

Additionally, there is a training center in Freetown focused on manually making boreholes where we plan to train two engineers from SEP-SL.

The pilot is planned soon, and if it is successful, SEP will have all the resources at hand to expand this project further, resulting in many more satisfied users and helping more people access safe drinking water.



We have been back in the Netherlands for a few weeks now and we are proud to say that we have successfully completed our project. After conducting research together with SEP for a long time, we have reached several conclusions and recommendations. Some of these include identifying a new and correct user group, installing the pump on the well it was originally designed for, and instilling responsibility among the pump owners. Furthermore, we have been busy ensuring that the project could continue without us. For this purpose, we received a donation from S4S to finance training for the motivated engineers of SEP. A few days before our departure, we had a concluding meeting with SEP where they expressed how valuable they found the collaboration. Additionally, together with SEP, we installed a pump in a completely new way. Hopefully, this will prove its worth in the coming time. We would like to thank S4S for their support in our project. Together, we have been able to make a difference in Sierra Leone. We and the people of SEP are very grateful for this!

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