Seepex and Design Outreach deliver a water pump to help third-world villages with water security.

WEFTEC 2015 was all about new and innovative technology, but one of the simplest devices on display there is having a powerful effect on people’s lives across rural Africa.

SEEPEX has worked with the nonprofit group Design Outreach to help develop the LifePump, a hand-operated deep-water well pump now being installed in third-world villages that lack easy access to clean water. The company invited Design Outreach to display and demonstrate the LifePump in its WEFTEC exhibit.

Design Outreach has developed a manual water pump that is reliable and can reach water in deep wells. The progressive cavity pump uses a mechanism driven with the hands, with a motion like that of the crank on a bicycle. The first pump was installed in the Village of Yamando in the Central African Republic and can pump water from a 400-foot-deep well.

Related: EPA updates rule for pathogens in drinking water

Design Outreach then created a second-generation pump using lessons learned from the first design. The LifePump model being deployed today is the third generation of the same basic pump. It is designed to last longer and reach deeper; it can be outfitted with monitoring devices to provide valuable feedback.

“SEEPEX helped develop a rotor/stator combination for the pump that worked well for the application,” says Daniel Lakovic, marketing manager with the company. “Our product expertise along with at-cost pricing has helped Design Outreach put more pumps in the ground. SEEPEX employees have also funded a pump.”

Design Outreach has partnered with the nonprofit World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that helps children, families and their communities reach their full potential by addressing the causes of poverty and injustice. The group is looking to partner with other nonprofits and with businesses in its endeavors.

Related: Drinking water experts to address contaminants found in water

In the least-developed parts of the world, water technologies are underutilized, according to an article on the SEEPEX website. In Africa, more than 125,000 water wells are unusable because low-quality hand pumps have broken or do not reach deep enough to work properly. In those cases, the only option people have is to walk miles every day to gather dirty, possibly contaminated water.

The LifePump is designed to withstand years of continuous use. It is easy to use for women and children, who most often do the water gathering. To use the pump, a person turns the handles to engage a drive rod that turns the water level rotor, which lies below the water’s surface. The rotor then drives water upward.

The SEEPEX article notes that employee Kamran Mirza assisted with the pump’s design and quotes him: “Believe it or not, one of the challenges we had in engineering this pump was to come up with the optimum size of the crank to determine what length would be the most suitable for the least amount of effort, so people wouldn’t get tired.”

Related: Water Leadership Institute now accepting 2013 applications

It takes 60 crank revolutions to produce 2.5 gallons of water.

After successful trial installations, Design Outreach in 2014 launched the Hundred Pump Project with World Vision and private donors. The aim is to install 100 LifePumps to benefit some 40,000 people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi and Zambia by the end of 2015.

In January 2015, SEEPEX completed its first fundraising campaign for $9,200 to install a LifePump in Malawi.

Subscribe: If you don't want to bring your iPad into the bathroom, we can send you a magazine subscription for free!

Related Stories

Like this story? Sign up for alerts!