Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Laura W. Lackey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth E. Trout, Ph.D.


groundwater, handpump, Millennium Development Goals, Rope Pump, Self-supply, sub-Saharan Africa


Rural improved water supply coverage in Uganda has stagnated around 64% for a number of years and at this point more than 10 million rural people do not have access to an improved drinking water source. It has been recognized that progress toward improved water supply coverage and increased service levels may be gained through Government and nongovernmental organization (NGO) support of private investment in household and shared water supplies, commonly known as Self-supply. Self-supply can be promoted by introducing and building local capacity in appropriate and affordable water supply technologies such as hand-dug wells, manually drilled boreholes, low-cost pumps, and rainwater harvesting. Support can also be focused on technical support, marketing, financing, and strategic subsidies that promote and enhance user investment. The Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment has embraced Self-supply as a complementary part of its water supply strategy while government and NGO programs that support Self-supply have emerged.

The EMAS Pump is a low-cost handpump appropriate for use in household water systems in the developing world. There are more than 20,000 in use in Bolivia, with many constructed through Self-supply. The EMAS Pump is constructed from simple materials costing about $US 10-30, depending largely on installation depth, and can be fabricated with simple tools in areas with no electricity. The EMAS Pump is used with low-cost groundwater sources such as hand-dug wells and manually drilled boreholes or with underground rainwater storage tanks. It can lift water from 30 m or more below ground and pump water with pressure overland

or to an elevated tank. The objectives of this research were to conduct an assessment of the EMAS Pump that considers pumping rates, required energy, and associated costs, to characterize the EMAS Pump for its potential for use in household water systems in Uganda, and to make relevant recommendations.

The potential of the EMAS Pump was assessed through testing its use with 2 subject participants (male and female) on wells of 5.1 m, 12.6 m, 17.0 m, 18.4 m, 21.1 m, and 28.3 m static water levels as part of a side-by-side comparative assessment with the Family Model version of the Rope Pump, a more widely known low-cost handpump that has recently been introduced and promoted in Uganda. Shallow and deep versions of each pump were tested on selected wells for 40-liter pumping trials. The status and feasibility of low-cost groundwater development and underground storage tanks were also explored in order to help characterize the potential of the EMAS Pump as an option for low-cost household water systems in Uganda.

In general, it was observed that the EMAS Pump performed comparably to the Rope Pump in terms of pumping rates for shallow depths, but the Rope Pump outperformed it on deeper wells. It was determined that the EMAS Pump required more energy for pumping during nearly all trials. A study of relevant supply chains in Uganda concluded that the EMAS pump has a material cost that is less than 50% of the Rope Pump for most applications and 21% of the cost for shallow wells. It was also determined that the EMAS Pump could feasibly be produced nearly anywhere in the country. There are indications that low-cost wells and underground rainwater tanks are applicable in many parts of Uganda and could be paired with an EMAS Pump to achieve significant affordability for Self-supply household water systems. Recommendations are provided in terms of the feasibility of introducing the EMAS Pump as a part of Self-supply strategy in Uganda.