More than 1 200 PlayPump systems already installed in rural parts of South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia, are, with the power of children’s play, bringing clean water to about two million people. By 2010, the combined efforts of PlayPumps International and the international organisations or individuals that fund the set-up of the PlayPump systems aim to have installed 4 000 pumps in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, making clean drinking water accessible to up to 10 million people. Expansion over the next few years will see PlayPump systems in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The PlayPump water system is a children’s merry-go-round attached to a water pump. As children play and spin, clean water gets pulled up from under ground into the 2 500 litre storage tank, standing seven metres above the ground.
A simple turn of the tap pours the water out, making it easily accessible for adults and children. Excess water is diverted from the storage tank back down into the borehole. If someone wants water when the children are not playing, an adult can easily spin the merry-go-round by hand.
Providing a clean water solution mostly for remote communities, PlayPump systems are usually installed near schools or centrally in rural communities in Africa where sanitation is poor. The benefits of the PlayPump water system are threefold: as well as providing access to clean, safe drinking water in areas that are otherwise without water or where access to water is very limited, the system also reduces barriers to education and promotes valued play and interpersonal skills among the youth.
The PlayPump water system is designed so that all four sides of the storage tank carry billboards for advertisements, so the system in effect pays for itself. The advertising space is rented to different companies, with the proviso that two of the spaces are reserved for positive social and educational messages, such as the importance of washing your hands and HIV/AIDS awareness. If a pump breaks, the money from this advertising pays for any repairs.
South African cement producer AfriSam is using the advertising space on 20 of these sites around South Africa – in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Province and North West – to communicate a social as well as a corporate message and assist PlayPump International in making a difference to rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.