More than 663 million people lack access to clean, safe drinking water. This reality means that many women and children around the world spend hours every day walking miles to collect water from streams and puddles that are usually contaminated. The unsafe water causes disease and death, and the time spent collecting water means sacrificing other opportunities such as going to school, farming, or starting a business. Providing clean water is a crucial first step in bringing health and economic opportunity to a community.
It sounds simple, but there are challenges to providing clean water. In many villages, the water table is too deep for traditional hand pumps. Even if water is accessible, the pumps are often unreliable, sometimes needing repairs after only a few months of use. Alarming statistics show that in many African countries nearly half of the installed pumps are no longer working. Tragically, there are over 125,000 non-functioning wells in Africa, leaving 31 million people with no access to clean water.
Design Outreach (DO) began working on a completely new hand-powered water pump that was more reliable and could reach water in the deepest wells. The first pump was successfully installed in the village of Yamando, Central African Republic with Water for Good, and was able to pump to water from 400 feet deep! Previously, Yamando’s well sat unused because there was no pump available to get the water out.
After testing in one village, DO immediately began working on a 2nd generation pump, incorporating the lessons learned from the first design. The team went back to the Central African Republic again with this new and improved version, and with much better results. However DO continued tweaking the design, and today DO is proud of the 3rd generation pump called the LifePump!
Design Outreach’s LifePump has been designed to last longer and reach deeper than the pumps commonly available. The LifePump can be outfitted with monitoring devices to provide timely and valuable feedback. All of these improvements will help water organizations become more effective in fulfilling their mission of delivering clean water to those in need.
Today, LifePumps are being evaluated with World Vision in Africa to ensure that the solution is ready for wider distribution. DO believes that the true value is not in just helping a few villages, but in scaling up so that eventually thousands of villages will have clean water. Finishing the pilot program is a crucial next step in accomplishing this goal!