Children Pump Clean Water While Playing on the Merry-Go-Round

PlayPumps International, a US non-profit organization, has come up with a very innovative way to help Africans obtain clean water for their families. The PlayPump is a sustainable, patented water pump that gets its power from children. The PlayPump is a merry-go-round that doubles as a water pump.


The spinning of the merry-go-round pumps clean water from underground into a 2,500 liter tank, standing seven meters above the ground. A simple tap makes it easy to draw water. All excess water is diverted from the storage tank back down into the borehole. The pump is able to produce up to 1,400 liters of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 up to 100 meters.

Women and girls in Africa are primarily responsible for collecting enough water each day for cooking, drinking and cleaning. This often means hauling heavy water containers for many miles taking, on average, three hours a day. The weight of the water containers is equivalent to about 44 pounds (20 kg). Many young girls and women must walk as much as six miles every day to retrieve water for their families. Some have to make the trip twice.

In much of the world, we take water for granted. We turn on a faucet and out it comes. We flush a toilet and think nothing of the amount of water it takes for that flush. When you flush that toilet, you’re using the same amount of water that one person in a less developed country uses all day to wash, clean, cook and drink.

The World Water Crisis

Our bodies are made up of over 60% water and our brain is about 70% water. We become thirsty if we lose just 1% of that water and if we lose 10% we can die. Dehydration is responsible for about 80% of deaths from cardiac arrest.

Today, there is a huge water crisis on our planet. Consider these facts:

• Only 1/10th of 1% of the water on earth is drinkable.
• 1.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water. That`s 18% of the world`s population.
• Unsafe water and lack of sanitation is now the single largest cause of illness worldwide.
• 5,000 children under age 5 die every day as a result of unclean water and poor sanitation. That`s one child every 15 seconds.
• Half the people in developing countries are suffering from water-related illnesses.

Unless we do something to change this trend, by the year 2025, the number of people without access to clean water could increase to 2.3 billion.

PlayPumps International Partners

River Bennett, a high school student from Nantuckett, MA has been working with local businesses and community groups. He also organized a swimathon at his high school to help people connect with water issues at home. By doing so, he’s helping Africans access clean drinking water. River, along with many others, is raising awareness and money to help install PlayPumps in Africa.

By 2010, PlayPumps International and its partners plan to bring the benefits of clean drinking water to up to 10 million people through the installation of 4,000 PlayPump(c) water systems in 10 countries in Africa. To date, they have donated more than 1,000 PlayPump(c) systems in South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia. The effect has been to bring clean drinking water to millions.

Each of the four sides of the above ground PlayPump(c) tank contains billboards. Two of the four billboards contain health and educational messages, while the other two are for consumer advertising that generates enough revenue to pay for pump maintenance.

Benefits obtained from the PlayPumps are huge. Of course, the health benefits are the most prominent from improved water supplies. However, it also frees up the time normally used for obtaining water, allowing women and children to use this time more productively. Now, children can attend school and gardens can be grown to produce healthy food for families. Poverty and hunger become a thing of the past.

To learn more about PlayPumps International, you can visit and They have many videos, a blog and links to other information that can further explain the process and the benefits of the PlayPump(c). You can even sign up to sponsor a PlayPump. And, be sure to take the water test at (click on the Play link). You’ll be surprised at the answers.


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