Pool Pumps Used for Irrigation in Africa

African Farmer

Ever thought a swimming pool pump could change the world?

Well, that’s exactly what Andy Pierce, director of Project41 decided to do when he started using a small pool water pump to help African farmers irrigate their land.

Pierce got the idea when he was volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti where one small hand pump, which was only drawing about five gallons of water a minute, had to meet the needs of 40 girls living there. Since he had worked many years as a plumber, he thought he could come up with a superior solution to the inefficient hand pump.

The former plumber thought to himself, “what could a person on a bicycle do with a large-capacity, one-horsepower swimming pool pump?”

And that’s what he did. Pierce ended up rigging together a pump and a bicycle which, with the help of a little pedal driven man-power, would deliver up to 55 gallons of water a minute.

The first P41 Rainmaker was initially installed in a health center in Uganda but they saw a great amount of potential in the world of agriculture. Instead of having to walk miles carrying buckets back and forth to water crops, a farmer needs only pedal a free-standing bicycle in order to draw water from whatever nearby source it’s connected to.

Project41’s goal is to “develop tools that empower the poor to lift themselves out of poverty.”

That has certainly been the case for the farmers who have utilized the Rainmaker system. Not only can the farmers have food security for their own families, but the added crops yielded by the simple irrigation system means they have an excess of food that they can take to market to sell. According to Project41’s estimates, farmers are seeing a whopping 700 percent increase in their yearly incomes.

Part of Project41’s goal is to help make this human powered irrigation system readily available to small-scale farms across the African continent. The pool industry has been eager to lend a helping hand.

The Tri-Valley chapter of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association in the Bay Area of California collected several hundred used swimming pool pumps in an effort to aid in the cause. Pentair Aquatic Systems donated approximately 500 new pumps.

The Tri-Valley group also chipped in $1,000 to help with the shipping costs as well as for the materials needed for the steel bicycle stands necessary for the system.

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