An ordinary piece of playground offers hope to the millions of people without access to clean drinking water that is critical for human survival
The American home has at least six sources of water, which is a convenient luxury when you think about it. Between sink faucets, toilets and washing machines, clean water is always available. But for the average South African villager, the story is quite different, with women and children walking miles every single day just to get water. Sweating over a rusty hand pump, they fill buckets with contaminated water, only to then lug them back to the village.
Today millions in South Africa suffer from limited access to clean water, which causes much stress and sickness in the lives of the rural villagers. Luckily Trevor Field, a retired advertising executive turned social entrepreneur, devised a plan to bring some relief to the people of Sub-Saharan Africa. His idea involves playground equipment that pumps water as children play on it, fittingly called The PlayPump.
The PlayPump looks like an ordinary merry-go-round, with loads of energetic kids to keep it spinning. But underground the wheel performs its magic, pumping 400 gallons of clean water per hour up into a storage tank. And since they are installed at schools, the pumps are much closer to the villages.
Maintenance of the pumps is funded by leasing advertising space on the storage tank. Two sides are designated for commercial advertising. The other two sides are devoted to health and educational messages, especially HIV awareness. Advertising pays for pump maintenance for 10 years, and after that period a local crew will be put together and trained in installing and maintaining the pumps, creating a sustainable water system as well as jobs.
Currently, with almost 900 PlayPumps installed in South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland, thousands of African villagers already feel the positive impact of the pumps. Villagers have time to maintain homes and gardens, while finding new ways to produce extra income; children earn valuable play-time with friends and go to school more often; and overall health increases. Furthermore, families are learning more about protecting themselves from HIV, a very important message for these isolated villages.
At the moment, there is a campaign to fund “100 Pumps in 100 Days.” The campaign began on World Water Day, March 22nd, and will end on June 29th of this year. Help save lives by donating today. Tell your family and friends about the situation in South Africa and encourage them to support the project, or start a fundraising drive in your school or neighborhood, such as a local car wash or bake sale. Atwww.playpumps.org you can download the “Action Kit” for more fundraising ideas.
If you were wondering about the cost of a PlayPump, it’s $14,000 and that includes the installation and transportation of the system, testing the water and building the pump, tank and faucet. It’s such a reachable amount that a number of high schools and colleges have adopted the PlayPump program.
Perhaps now you’ll think twice before taking a 20 minute shower or flushing the toilet that uses five gallons of water per flush. And maybe while in the shower you’ll decide to help the millions of people without access to clean water.