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Philippines

Pump earns Ramon Magsaysay award

Group working with rural poor gets Asia's version of Nobel Prize for water supply

John Lagman, Manila

John Lagman, Manila

Published: September 01, 2011 10:40 AM GMT
Pump earns Ramon Magsaysay award
The award recipients (from left) Nileema Mishra, Tri Mumpuni, Koul Panha, Hasanain Juaini, Harish Hande, and Auke Idzenga

An organization working with the rural poor in the hinterlands of Negros Occidental province has received one of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Awards, considered Asia's version of the Nobel Prizes. The Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) was recognized for its technology that has helped improve the delivery of basic necessities to rural poor in upland communities. "[This award] recognizes all the hard work done by mostly silent heroes who come from the grassroots… We are very sure this award will help spread our work faster," Auke Idzenga, a Dutch marine engineer and co-founder of AIDFI, said yesterday. "It’s unbelievable. It will have a very great impact for our future work," Idzeng said after the award ceremony. Idzenga and a small group of social activists established AIDFI in the 1980s to help poor people in rural communities. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation gave special recognition to AIDFI's ram pump technology that uses natural kinetic energy from water flowing in rivers and springs to push water uphill and into people’s homes. An AIDFI pump can carry up to 72,000 liters of water each day to an upland reservoir. The system brings water to upland communities that do not have easy access to it. AIDFI has provided at least 227 ram pumps which have benefited 185 upland communities in various parts of the country. The Ramon Magsaysay Awards were established in 1957 to give recognition to the ideals which distinguished the life and service rendered to people by late Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay. Each award recipient gets a cash prize of US$50,000, a gold medal and a certificate. "Our goal is simple. Somehow people will find inspiration, maybe some good idea, so that they can also make their contribution to real progress in our society," said Carmencita Abella, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.

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