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Good News on the Playground: A Merry-Go-Round Water Pump!

playpumpsI’m sure you can relate to this dilemma: How to keep toddlers from drinking the sprinkler water at the park? Across the world though, millions of mothers wish they had this problem. UNICEF reports that more than 5,000 children die every day as a result of unclean drinking water. But wait! There is good news, too, and while it comes from an unexpected place, it’s one that you know well – the playground!

After witnessing the scarcity of clean drinking water in South Africa, and watching mothers and daughters spend hours each day collecting and carrying questionably potable water, social entrepreneur and former ad exec Trevor Field introduced an ingenious new system for pumping water. He’d stumbled across a farmer who’d hooked a pump up to a merry-go-round and decided to bring the idea to scale.

With the PlayPump, mums can watch as their children joyfully spin round and round on their new merry-go-round, knowing that each spin pumps deep clean ground water into a tank which feeds to a nearby tap and storage container. Don’t you love great ideas?

Brought to fruition in the late 1990s, the PlayPump has gained momentum recently with support from the likes of Jay-Z, AOL cofounder Steve Case and his wife, Jean, Bill Clinton and Laura Bush. You can find the PlayPump across sub-Saharan Africa. The goal for new PlayPump installations involves a lot of 10′s: reaching 10 million people in 10 African countries by 2010.

You’ll never look at the merry-go-round in quite the same way, will you?

- Emily Frost

Source: PBS Frontline.
Photo courtesy of PlayPumps International.

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