The Elephant Pump is a 20 meter rope pump.
The Elephant Pump is a simple rope and washer pump with an enclosure which can be installed onto a protected shallow well reaching water table depth of up to 20 m.
Pump Aid have built over 9,000 pumps in communities across Malawi, Zimbabwe and Liberia. Pump Aid target small or remote communities where costly and complex water supply technologies are unsuitable including locations where drilling rigs cannot gain access and deep source pumps are too expensive for community maintenance.
This product has been implemented by Pump Aid with the help of NGOs and government organizations.
~3740 USD (3060 GBP) Converted on May 2020 per installation including maintenance.
Zimbabwe – Mvuramanzi Trust is another organization providing rope pumps in Zimbabwe. There are not many reported rope pump distributions in Malawi or Liberia.
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
The pump is ideal for families and small, rural populations living on less than 1 dollar per day especially in rural areas of Malawi, Liberia and Zimbabwe.
The entire pump is produced locally, either at a Pump Aid metal workshop, or by local welders under Pump Aid’s supervision. Welders make the wheel, the axle and the ratchet from locally sourced steel.
Pump Aid have created their own spin off of an open source technology known as the Rope Pump.
This product is distributed by Pump Aid by donation only. The implementation sites are identified with the local community by Pump Aid. The suitability of a site is assessed by examining the depth of ground water, the time it takes for the groundwater to re-infiltrate and reach the well, the projected number of people that will be using the water source, the distance of the site from sanitation facilities, huts and rubbish pits and other factors such as the use of chemicals on the land.
Over 9,000 Elephant pumps have been installed in communities across Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Liberia.
Description of the pump type
Power required, measured in watts
Manufacturer-specified discharge rate, measured at a specific head
Maximum depth of water the pump can pull
Piston nominal diameter, measured in centimeters
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
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.
Sites are revisited by Pump Aid staff and are serviced by the organization.
Most recent lifespan information is from 2005, stating that the Elephant Pump can last up to 50 years with proper maintenance.
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.
Poorly constructed enclosures can cave in if not given proper time to cure.
The Elephant Pump can be used along with any purification, disinfection, or treatment system to ensure water potability.
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.
This product has been evaluated through field tests.
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