Zimbabwe Trip: The LifePump That Was Just in Time

Design OutreachUncategorizedLeave a Comment

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, our thoughts are filled with preparing to stuff turkeys and stockings—it is the season of plenty. But in the country of Zimbabwe, November marked the end of the long and dusty dry season. Back in April the rains stopped falling, rivers dried up into trickles, and many bush pumps ran dry.

children using LifePump Even the deepest-reaching traditional hand pumps can only extract water from up to 50 meters (164 feet). In October, at the height of the dry season, the water table drops below the bottom of many hand pumps. Functioning hand pumps that run dry during the peak of the dry season are a common but untold story.Unfortunately, there is no data to show the exact number of seasonal boreholes, but our co-founder and CEO Dr. Greg Bixler describes it as a “global epidemic.”

That is why we designed LifePump to go deeper than other hand pumps—up to 150 meters (nearly 500 feet)! By reaching deeper into aquifers, the water level will not drop below the bottom of the pump. Communities need water every day of the year, but even more so when all other water sources are drying up.

We sent a team of engineers to Zimbabwe in July to train our partners on the installation of LifePumps and LifePumpLinks in communities surrounding Karanda Mission Hospital. In a community named Kunopeta, the team was greeted by Edison who told them, “You arrived just in time.” Edison was referring to the dry season that was upon them.

LifePumpLink, our innovative remote satellite monitor developed in partnership with SonSet Solutions, allows us a glimpse into daily LifePump usage around the world. In Kunopeta, Zimbabwe, the app connected to the monitor shows us that the LifePump was used an average of nine hours a day in October, with some days reaching 13 hours a day. The hours of usage are actual turn time of the handles. This means that on those higher-use days, there is a line of people at the pump all day and probably into the night—the need is so great!

Thanks to technological advances like LifePumpLink, we can know that water is flowing at Kunopeta, and the community members there can have the confidence to invest in seeds for a garden and livestock to help feed their families—because of the confidence that tomorrow there will be water.


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