Applying innovation in practice, UNDP increasingly seeks not to look for a “best practice” solution from outside the local context, but to focus on mapping, identifying and supporting local solutions (or innovations) to context specific challenges. Locally-developed innovations often bring great benefit to communities by enabling work that is an essential part of people’s lives to be done more efficiently and effectively than previously. We know that someone, somewhere, probably has a better way of doing things – the key is finding them, learning, iterating, adapting and finally scaling the successful solution.
One such person was RehmatUllah Kundi – a Pakistani engineer who in 2012 was told by a colleague about the problems local people in TakhtBai Area were facing with lifting water from a small dam. Common methods for uplifting water in rural areas of Pakistan had been tube wells – which require electricity, pipelines – which are expensive, or women carrying buckets – which is back-breaking work. As an engineering student, RehmatUllah was fascinated by a method he had read about in a local newspaper; ram-pumps. The problem was, however, that they were imported from the US with replacement parts unavailable locally. He set about sourcing locally made parts to put together a prototype which he installed for testing in Jamrod, Khyber Agency, in 2013. They worked fantastically, drastically easing the burden on women and made the maintenance easy since parts could be sourced in the local market.
While searching for local water collection solutions, a viable solution based on custom made ram-pump technology was discovered by UNDP through its partner WWF in Gilgit Baltistan. With the pump having been successfully piloted already in upper Hunza by WWF, in partnership with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), UNDP identified an opportunity for the scale of a locally-developed solution, coupled with the organization’s expertise on natural resource management to offer a method for addressing water management issues in remote areas of Northern Pakistan.