The iDE Rope Pump is a hand rotating manually-operated pump that uses a rope and suction pump system to pump water at a water table depth up to 35 m.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Market Suggested Retail Price
Target Users (Target Impact Group)
Distributors / Implementing Organizations
iDE manufactures the pumps to be distributed by various businesses serving farmers.iDE implements their own product as part of the Rural Prosperity Initiative II (RPI-II) program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Individually crafted by local craftsmen/producers
Intellectural Property Type
User Provision Model
User can contact iDE\'s micro-finance office located in Addis Ababa. Financing options: subsidy, access to micro-finance, traditional savings schemes, and raising funds from within family assets.
Distributions to Date Status
243 (as of 2011)
Human powered pump
Power requirement (W)
Average flow rate (L/min at specific head)
24 L/min at 6 m, 18 L/min at 9 m, 12 L/min at 12 m, 9 L/min at 18 m
Maximum head (m)
The iDE Rope Pump is a hand-operated option for accessing water when the water table depth is out of reach of suction pumps, up to 35 m. Washers of locally-available material are tied some distance apart along a long loop of rope, which is threaded down into a well and back up through a pipe. As the rope leaves the pipe it passes over a wheel and back down into the well. As the wheel is turned, the washers bring water up in a continuous stream through the pipe.
Most issues are possible to resolve by basic troubleshooting. Technician support may be needed if the issue is complex, however, a trained village mechanic should be able to resolve problems. All of the methods in testing/building a new rope pump are listed in the training manual assistance that iDE provides to a producer/manufacturer.
Rope and washers need periodic replacement, which can be available locally.
Lifespan information unavailable. Individual dealers and organizations implementing the pumps may have their own warranty.
Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters
Daily pumping to irrigate 200 m² (minutes): 70 – 100, 90 – 130, 140 – 200, 180 – 270. For depth to water up to 18 m, the rope pump can be used for irrigating small plots in addition to other domestic water uses For depth to water beyond 18 m, the rope pump is best suited for domestic use. Irrigation would be limited to dense agriculture like seedling nurseries
Vetted Performance Status
Water quality is still of concern, because of a lack of data for all rope pumps. See report Section 3.6IDE does not recommend depths over 22 m because the Rope Pump cannot then be effective lifting water for productive purpose, which is their main objective. However yields are still adequate for domestic purposes.
Complementary Technical Systems
Water output is not pressurized: water will need to be transported to the field, or be elevated to use drip or sprinkle irrigation.
Academic Research and References
Harvey, P. A., Drouin, T., 2006, The case for the rope-pump in Africa: A comparative performance analysis, Journal of Water and Health, 4(4) pp. 499-510.
Smulders, P.T., Rijs, R.P.P., 2006, A hydrodynamic model of the rope pump, Eindhoven University of Technology.
Alberts, J.H., 2012, The rope pump – an example of technology transfer, Waterlines, 22(3).
Goret, A.C., Albers, J.H., Gago, J.F., Sandifor, P., 1995, A randomized trial of the impact of rope-pumps on water quality, The Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 98(4) pp. 247-255.
Turner, B., 1994, Small-scale irrigation in developing countries, Land Use Policy, 11(4) pp. 251-261.
“iDE,” iDE. Available: https://www.ideglobal.org/country/ethiopia
“Vergnet-Hydro 60-2000 Pump,” Engineering For Change, 27-Aug-2015. Available: https://www.engineeringforchange.org/solutions/product/vergnet-hydro-60-2000-pump/
“Afridev Hand Pump,” Engineering For Change, 27-Aug-2015. Available: https://www.engineeringforchange.org/solutions/product/afridev-hand-pump/
“India Mark II Handpump,” Engineering For Change, 27-Aug-2015. Available: https://www.engineeringforchange.org/solutions/product/india-mark-ii-handpump/
“Elephant Pump,” Engineering For Change, 12-Jun-2014. Available: https://www.engineeringforchange.org/solutions/product/elephant-pump/
“Goal 6,” Sdgs.un.org. Available: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal6
“KB Rope and Washer Pump,” Ide-india.org. Available: https://www.ide-india.org/content/kb-rope-and-washer-pump.
Compliance with regulations
This working paper developed by the Research-inspired Policy and Practice Learning in Ethiopia and the Nile region (RiPPLE) Research Programme Consortium provides a comprehensive analysis of the scaling efforts for rope pumps including IDE\'s. The paper notes that the lack of demand for pumps in most areas, and the lack of capacity to respond to demand where it has developed are slowing down any efforts to go to scale. If rope pumps are to play a significant part in Universal Access Plan (UAP) coverage it will need a concerted effort by the Bureau of Water Resources to have them recognized as a valuable technology by both sector professionals and households, and consequently included in their budgets. Technical guidelines are well-developed, but those for introducing and marketing rope pumps are not. The product is also sold in India.