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Issue 003

Water Park

by Theresa Everline

February 17, 2007
The PlayPumps Water System performs modern-day alchemy, converting the energy of children cavorting on a simple playground merry-go-round into clean water. As children spin, the system pumps water from an underground well into a 25-foot-high storage tank. Instead of the time-consuming task of hauling water, villagers need only turn a tap.Co-founder Trevor Field has even combined the brilliant engineering of the pump with a dash of commercialism: Each 650-gallon tank sports four billboards, two for advertising and two for public-health messages. PlayPumps International raises the $14,000 for each system's equipment and set-up costs. Ad revenues then pay for upkeep. One South African school principal has certainly noticed the difference a PlayPump brings: Now "learners can drink, a nutrition program is carried out with ease, our classrooms and toilets are clean," he wrote. "And we have just planted new trees."There are now 700 PlayPumps scattered across southern Africa, and last year the U.S. government and several private foundations invested $16.4 million in the project-one-quarter of the money needed to reach a goal of 4,000 pumps by 2010, which would provide clean water to 10 million people in 10 countries across the continent. "It's estimated that a child dies every 15 seconds from diseases related to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation," says PlayPumps' president, Jill Rademacher. "The water crisis is something we can't ignore."LEARN MORE playpumps.org

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