Rural Communities in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa suffers from a 39.1% HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, much higher than the 29% national average. Elderly grandmothers (ngogos) are left behind with the primary responsibility of caring for orphans and vulnerable children of afflicted parents. To support the children, the ngogos practice subsistence agriculture. They experience great physical strains from manually carrying water from nearby streams to their gardens which takes time away from other daily activities, such as educating the children.


The 8 communities our chapter has worked with are located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


To relieve the women and children of these communities from the need to collect water for their gardens on a daily basis, our chapter chose to implement a type of water pump called a ram pump in 8 different communities. The ram pump, which was designed by South Africa native Dave Alcock, uses hydraulic power to irrigate community gardens. The system serves as a low-cost, low-maintenance solution to the problem described above.

Current Situation

Between 2006 and 2014, our chapter members took a total of 14 trips to South Africa. The project has since been closed out, although continued communication with in-country partners has indicated that the ram pump systems are continuing to function as planned, with no significant problems so far. The project is now completed.

Special Thanks

Whiting School of Engineering

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

The Mondialogo Foundation Engineering Award

U.S. EPA People, Prosperity, and Planets Program

Fort Collins Rotary Breakfast Club

Towson Rotary Club

Mt. Airey Rotary Club

Durban Rotary Club

Pietermaritzburg Rotary Club

Bentley Corporation

EWB-USA Project Grants Program

JHU Center for a Livable Future Fellowship Program

JHU Center for Global Health Frameworks Grant Program

Khanyisa Projects

Zakhe Agricultural College and Zakhe Training Institute

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agricultural and Environmental Affairs

The Buddy Cleveland Family

The Weigel Family

The Biser Family

The Spellissy Family

The Wheeler Family

The Caldas Family

The Berger Family

The Ball Family

A. Mortan Thomas & Associates