Water pumps in Malawi


Bringing clean safe drinking water to rural communities in Lilongwe



Establish a sustainable supply of clean, safe water with Elephant Pumps for rural communities in Malili, central region of Malawi. All materials are sourced locally and communities play a large role in the building and the maintenance of the Pump.


Who will benefit?


  • 24 trainees


  • 12 water systems
  • 3000 people affected
  • 50 years duration


Africa, Malawi
TA Malili
-13.483068, 34.153195

Project in depth

Focus area

Water and sanitation Categories: Training, Water

Detailed information

Over 800 million people across the developing world do not have access to clean water for drinking, cooking and washing. Malawi is amongst the world’s poorest countries ranked in the bottom 10% in the Human Development Index (UNDP 2007/08). An on-going national water point mapping projects indicates that only 57% of the rural population have access to safe, clean drinking water. As a result water-related diseases, including dysentery and typhoid, are common; a problem exacerbated by the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS.

Current status

Pump Aid currently works in Malawi and has worked in the northern regions of the country with remote communities. Over the next 12 months Pump Aid teams will be working in the central region, reaching more vulnerable communities and bringing lasting, sustainable solutions to water provision. Our teams have met with Traditional Authority chiefs, visitied sites and undertaken site verification in preparation for the work.

Pump Aid teams meet the communities, engage them in the process. Once suitable sites have been selected, well preparation is undertaken. Once this has been completed, the pump building team arrive to install the Pump, where also the community will have donated some materials such as scrap plastic and river sand. The Elephant Pump is constructed in a day with members of the community, transfering key skills in maintenance. This is followed up with a maintenance training workshop, where members of the community are taught how to make rope and washer replacements.

To significantly improve access to sources of clean, safe water. Through the provision of clean water, rural communities can lead healthier lives.


  • Provide 3000 people with clean drinking water
  • Improved sources of clean water improves health and lives
  • Sustainable source of water can lead to income generation

The Elephant Pump is an innovative and effective hand pump based on a 2000 year old Chinese rope and washer design. One Elephant Pump can provide 250 people with 40 litres of clean water for each person every day. This water can be used for both domestic use (washing, cooking etc) and productive use (irrigation of crops). The pump is very easy and quick to build and can easily be used by all members of the community, both young and old.

The pump is encased in concrete to prevent any contamination, ensuring a clean, sustainable supply of water is provided for the local community. This is vital to stop the spread of water borne diseases.

All materials are sourced locally and people from within the community receive training in how to build and maintain the pump. This enables them to carry out any repairs using easily accessible materials such as plant fibres.

Communities are encouraged to plant crops near the Pump to take advantage of any overflow of water. The year round water source is key in ensuring successful crops, that can be used for income generating activities.

The local community is involved in every step of the process of building an Elephant Pump. This ensures that they have a real sense of ownership of the pump and that they have the knowledge and ability to maintain the pump. They are then fully self-reliant.

Related to this project

External link

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Website Pump Aid

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Raised: € 7,400

Fully funded

See funding details ►

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Project partners

Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands

EARTH Concepts
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Pump Aid
London, United Kingdom

Akvo Ref: 116