Updated on December 26, 2023


Created on June 12, 2014

Elephant Pump


The Elephant Pump is a 20 meter rope pump.

Developed By
  1. Pump Aid
Tested By
  • Pump Aid
Content Partners


Product Description

The Elephant Pump is a simple rope and washer pump with an enclosure that can be installed onto a protected shallow well-reaching water table depth of up to 20 m.

Target SDGs

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

SDG 1: No Poverty

Market Suggested Retail Price


Target Users (Target Impact Group)


Distributors / Implementing Organizations

This product has been implemented by Pump Aid with the help of NGOs and government organizations.

Manufacturing/Building Method

The entire pump is produced within the site region. The production happens under the supervision of Pump Aid or at a metal workshop of Pump Aid.

Intellectural Property Type

Select Type

User Provision Model

This product is distributed by Pump Aid by donation only. Pump Aid works with the local community to perform the relevant site assessments and then organize the production of the Elephant pump.

Distributions to Date Status

Over 9,000 Elephant pumps have been installed in communities across Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Liberia.

Pump type

Human-powered pump

Power requirement (W)


Average flow rate (L/min at specific head)

60 L/min at 20 m

Maximum head (m)

30 m

Diameter (cm)


Design Specifications

This product was designed to reach a water table of up to 20 meters. The axle can be driven by hand or peddled. The wheel, the axle, and the ratchet are made from locally sourced steel. Specific technical data for Rope Pumps follows: Piston nominal dia.: 1”, ¾” or ½” At 10 m head: 1.4 m³/hour At 15 m head: 1.1 m³/hour At 20 m head: 0.7 m³/hour Pumping lift: 0 - 30 m Population served: ~ 70 people

Product Schematics

Technical Support

The community are expected to maintain the product. To accomplish this, Pump Aid train leaders and individuals within the community to be responsible for operations and maintenance. This includes area mechanics, local artisans, builders and welders in Elephant Pump construction and well preparation. According to Pump Aid staff, very little routine maintenance that needs to be carried out on an Elephant Pump. The pump sites are revisited by Pump Aid staff and are serviced by the organization.

Replacement Components

Sites are revisited by Pump Aid staff and are serviced by the organization.



Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

The product was designed to bring clean water to small, remote communities, which are excluded from larger scale projects. The designer specified performance targets include: cheap to build, easy to install, and can be made from local materials.

Vetted Performance Status

Testing of the Elephant Rope Pump has been performed by the manufacturer. No third-party testing has been completed. However, rope pump technology is well-established and proven in the public domain. Public domain standards and guidelines have been produced and documented by RWSN.


Poorly constructed enclosures can cave in if not given proper time to cure.

Complementary Technical Systems

The Elephant Pump can be used along with any purification, disinfection, or treatment system to ensure water portability.

Academic Research and References

Thorpe, I., 2004, “Pump Aid and the Elephant Pump in Zimbabwe,” E-Conference: Tackling poverty through multiple use water services.

Holm, R., et al., 2015, “Functionality and water quality of Elephant pumps: Implications for sustainable drinking water supplies in rural Malawi,” Groundwater for Sustainable Development, 1, pp. 129-134.

“Home,” Pump Aid, 28-Oct-2022. Available: https://pumpaid.org/

WordPress.com. Available: https://pumpaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/what-is-an-elephant-pump-water-project.pdf

“Mvuramanzi Trust – Supporting Water and Sanitation Initiatives,” Mvuramanzi.co.zw. Available: http://www.mvuramanzi.co.zw/

“Goal 6,” Sdgs.un.org. Available: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal6

WordPress.com. Available: https://pumpaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/what-is-an-elephant-pump-water-project.pdf

WordPress.com. Available: https://pumpaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/pumpaid_impactreport2013.pdf

F. Shaw, “The Elephant Pump,” AquAid UK, 14-Jun-2013. Available: https://www.aquaidwatercoolers.co.uk/the-elephant-pump

I. Thorpe, “Pump aid and the elephant pump in Zimbabwe,” Musgroup.net. Available: https://www.musgroup.net/sites/default/files/php0kiPJ8.pdf

“Rural Water Supply Network,” Rural-water-supply.net. Available: https://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/search?search=Elephant+pump

Compliance with regulations


Evaluation methods

This product has been evaluated through field tests.

Other Information


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