Zimbabwe – In 1999, when Ian Thorpe was teaching English in rural Zimbabwe, two pupils at his primary school died of dysentery after drinking water from a local well into which a snake had fallen and decomposed. The shocking incident drove Thorpe – with two former teacher colleagues, Tendai Mawunga and Amos Chiungo – to develop an inexpensive (US$400) contamination-proof pump.
Thorpe’s team adapted an ancient Chinese technology that used bamboo for pipes and sisal rope and discs of leather to bring buckets of water from hand-dug wells. The “Elephant Pump” has a concrete casing protecting water from contamination. It is simple enough for a five-year-old to use.
Winning a Development Marketplace grant of US$120,000 in 2006 allowed Thorp’s PumpAid – a U.K.-based international charity – to expand its nascent program beyond a few schools and villages and install 1,000 pumps that benefited 250,000 Zimbabweans.
Development Marketplace funds were also used to create the Elephant Toilet, an innovative, low-cost, low-maintenance approach to sanitation.
Below are links to “Elephant Pump” and “Elephant Toilet” videos:
- Pump Aid – The Elephant Pump
- Pump Aid – Elephant Pump Animation
- Pump Aid – How to Build an Elephant Pump
- Pump Aid’s Elephant Toilet featured on CNN
- Pump Aid and the Elephant Toilet