Play Pump

Historically, villagers in water-starved areas have worked hard to manually pump contaminated water up from shallow water tables for drinking – water they then have to carry in buckets back to their homes. People spending their time as beasts of burden.

Inventor Trevor Field is bringing clean, fresh drinking water from deep underground to villagers across Africa with the Play Pump, which harnesses the limitless energy of kids. In place of the traditional hand-cranked pump, Field’s team installs a merry-go-round connected to a deep well pump on school playgrounds. The kids, who often have virtually no access to playground equipment, love it.

The Play Pump can be installed in a few hours for just $7,000, and can bring drinking water to more than 2,500 people — water that’s cleaner than what came from the hand pumps it replaces, since it comes from deeper underground.

Field then sells ad space on the pump’s reservoir to finance pump maintenance — and reserves one ad panel for AIDS awareness campaigns: “We’ve got to get the message through to them before they become sexually active,” he says. “It seems to be working.”

According to comments on the Frontline story, other companies are using similar solutions to generate electricity.

Music: Robert Wyatt :: Tubab

2 Replies to “Play Pump”

  1. I want one for my daughter’s preschool! The school could probably make money, generating electricity from the kids & selling it back to PG&E.

  2. What a great idea, and thank you for bringing it to my attention. As for here in the states, it sure could be used in some locations, however the cost of installation/cost/maintainance could be cost prohibitive. One way I suggest taking a look at making money generating electricity is to build a wind generator (if you live in a zone 4-6). The cost is about 700-1000 USD, some electrical experience (in both cases so it is moot), and of course a tower. is a good place to start, it is a grass roots effort with locality in mind. Very interesting solution to a very big problem. They are getting 2-5 Kwatt from some of their 16 and 17′ blade designs.

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