January 28, 2009 The Playpump is a playground merry-go-round that uses the boundless energy of children to pump water out of the ground. More than 1000 such pumps have been installed in schools in South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia and apart from bringing joy to children, and providing easy access to clean drinking water for the local community, the simple installation of the playpump has catalyzed improvements in health, education, economic development and even gender equality. The PlayPump system also provides one of the only ways to reach rural and peri-urban communities with potentially life saving public health messages.

We've previously covered the problems associated with getting clean drinking water for one billion of the world's inhabitants here and here, and some of the ingenious inventions which are mitigating the problem here, here, and here. We'll be doing a lot more on this subject in the near future, but if you'd like to understand just how dire the problem is, might we suggest you attempt to take in this film.

The playpump is essentially a windmill on its side, driven by children, not wind. It is capable of producing up to 1,400 liters of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 meters, and it is effective up to a depth of 100 meters.

PlayPumps International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families by providing access to clean drinking water, enhancing public health, and offering play equipment to millions across Africa.

The organization’s goal is to provide the benefits of clean drinking water to up to 10 million people by 2010. If this enterprise is appealing to you, you can donate here, but even better, you can organise for the distribution and sale of One Water in your community – One Water is a product of London-based not-for-profit organization Global Ethics, that donates ALL of its profits to Playpump International.

A separate story on Global Ethics and One Water is coming.