Malawi Pump Aid Water Pump Blog
Celebrating New Pump

The Elephant Pump

Posted on: November 10, 2016

Since 1998, we have provided over 1.35 million people with access to water by training local communities to build water pumps in rural Malawi. The same Elephant Pump that launched our work 18 years ago, continues to be a core part of our rural water supply project at Pump Aid today.

Our trusty Elephant Pump is based on a traditional rope and washer pump which was first used in China 2,000 years ago. This pump is ideal for the small and remote villages we work in which are excluded from larger projects due to their small size. The Elephant Pump is cheap to build, easy to install and uses local materials.

How does the Elephant Pump work?

The Elephant Pump sits above a well, which is dug by hand by local workers making it possible to dig wells in remote locations where it wouldn’t be feasible to bring in mechanical diggers. The water from the well is lifted to the surface by a rope with small washers attached which is guided through a pipe and around a wheel which rotates when a user turns the handle to collect water.

Watch a video of how the elephant pump works here.

Working with local workers gives them a feel of ownership for the project and ensures they have the skills to build and repair these pumps. The pump is then encased in concrete to ensure that the water is not contaminated. The Elephant Pump is made up entirely of locally manufactured parts, which contributes to the local economy. This also means that communities are able to replace broken parts easily.

Watch a video of the Elephant Pump in use:

What makes the Elephant Pump different from other technologies?

The Elephant Pump produces water that meets all safety standards and is more reliable and is easier to repair than more expensive mechanised pumps. It is very simple to use and simple to maintain. It has been internationally recognised in 2005 when it was awarded the St Andrews Medal for the Environment and again, in 2006, when it received the World Bank Development Marketplace Award for Development Innovations.

What are the benefits of installing an Elephant Pump?

For every water pump installed, there are more children in school, fewer people are sick from water-related illness and more economic opportunities arise as people spend less time traveling to access water. A protected water source prevents contamination from faecal matter, which leads to illnesses such as diarrhea and, in some cases, death. These pumps transform lives forever and we aim to reach another 250,000 people by 2018.

Clean water is just the beginning.

Children washing hands using an Elephant Pump

To help bring more communities with clean water please help by making a donation

To read more about our rural water supply project please visit our project page.