Millions of Kenyans lack access to reliable sources of water. In fact, only 9 out of 55 public water service providers in Kenya provide continuous water supply. Seeking to confront this issue is George Maingi, who manufactures solar water pumps at his shop Maxfinley’s Tools and Instruments in Ruiru outside of Nairobi.
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Solar water pumps: An eco-friendly way to deal with water issues in Kenya
An electrical engineer by profession, Maingi got the idea for the solar water pump when he was visiting the Turkana and Wajir regions of Kenya. He saw the problems those communities had with accessing water and the shortcomings in the available water pumps. In particular, the pumps in the market were made of metal, which would disintegrate from the salt in the water. Furthermore, given the lack of electricity in the rural areas, the pumps were running on expensive, dirty diesel fuel.
Maingi thus wanted to design a water pump that would be reliable, eco-friendly, and reduce energy costs for Kenyans in need. As Maingi says, solar power is “free energy from God!”
Maxfinley’s manufactures solar water pumps
Maingi and his team of 4 permanent employees, 2 casuals, and 1 intern assemble the pumps from scratch in their shop. Although Maxfinley’s Tools and Instruments was opened in 2013, they began selling the solar water pumps in January of this year. They offer three different models that differ in wattage capacities- 30 watts, 100 watts, and 300 watts. As the pumps are 120 feet long, they don’t require the use of a storage tank.
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Mitigating climate change, empowering the community with solar water pumps
Maxfinley’s solar water pump both fights and adapts to climate change. By utilizing solar power, they are mitigating greenhouse gas emissions that come with using diesel fuel. Furthermore, with increased droughts threatening Kenyans’ access to water, Maxfinley’s provides a solution for communities in need.
By bringing water closer to the people, Maxfinley’s is also able to uplift Kenyan women. As is typical across Africa, women often bear the burden of walking miles and spending hours per day fetching water. In fact, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) claims that women and girls in low-income countries spend 40 billion hours annually collecting water. Improving access to water through solar pumps, for example, can free up time for women and girls to go to school or engage in more productive, income-generating activities.
Maxfinley’s receives incubation from Kenya Climate Innovation Center
Maingi became a client of KCIC in March 2019. So far, he has already received support in the form of information about sustainability and branding as well as participation in the MicroMentor program. He is looking forward to obtaining further assistance from KCIC to scale up and mechanize production and boost marketing.
In the long run, he envisions expanding his solar pumps across the country to ensure that all Kenyans have access to a reliable source of water.
By: Alise Brilault