We in the West take it for granted that you turn on the faucet, and water comes out. But for many people, it’s not a given. In fact, in many places, you have to walk for miles, scooping it into a large jar, then carry it back. And there’s no guarantee of it’s cleanliness. This results in a large number of deaths each year. But it simply doesn’t have to be that way. The irony is, for many, water can be found, right where they are, albeit deep in the ground. How? Not via an electricity or generator powered water pump. Too expensive, and generally there’s a lack of infrastructure in many places to support such a thing. What then?
How about a merry-go-round and a prefab water tower. Come again? Yes, it’s called the Play Pump. What is it? Basically, it’s a water pump, that utilizes the energy of children (and anybody else who cares to play on it) spinning around on a playground style merry-go-round, that serves as the motor behind the pump. Rather then give them away, these reasonably priced devices whose water tower has nice large flat surfaces could double as a billboard, providing income to cover the maintenance of them, and publicity for local businesses.
What happens as a result of these?
Communities get clean drinking water, preventing needless deaths. Would be farmers now have a reliable source of Irrigation water for growing crops, a source of income and nutrition. And there’s broader, more long term result: a more educated female population, as the need to walk miles to fetch water in the morning before school is eliminated. Not bad for a merry-go-round.
With partners as diverse as National Geographic Kids and Anheuser-Busch, things are looking quite promising for the future of water supplies in areas that once had none. Take a look at their site, to see where Play Pumps are making a difference, and how you can too. www.playpumps.org
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.