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Pump as you Play

Roundabout Outdoor, a South African company, has recently introduced an innovative solution to the problem of pumping water from a borehole: the play pump.

It came up with the idea of putting a roundabout near a borehole and connecting the water pump to the roundabout. As local children play happily on the roundabout, their energy is harnessed and used to power the pump. Water is pumped up from the borehole into a large, sealed storage tank near the playground. When families need water from the tank, they simply have to use a tap.

The play pump roundabout is almost as easy to push as a normal roundabout and children have great fun playing on it. Local families can now collect their water quickly and easily, leaving the women more time to spend earning money for the family and the children more time for education.

How it works

A drive mechanism below the roundabout is used to power a displacement cylinder that pumps water up the borehole to the storage tank. The cylinder pumps about 4 litres of water for every rotation of the roundabout. The mechanism has just two moving parts, making it easy to operate and maintain.

The pump is much more efficient than a traditional hand pump and can move up to 1400 litres of water per hour, depending on the depth of the borehole. This means that the storage tank can be filled in just two to three hours. After this, it can be topped up as necessary. If more water is pumped up when the tank is full, it is diverted back to the borehole so that none is wasted. As both the tank and the pumping system are sealed units, the water supply is protected from the risk of contamination.


[Source:, October 2006]

More information
Information about the company Roundabout Outdoors