Hand Pump Sounds, Their History and Moving Our School

Each morning in the desert bush of Burkino Faso, I lay under the fading stars of morning light awoken by the sounds of women and children pumping the only hand pump in the area, filling buckets with water and carrying them home on their heads. That was in 1983.
Yet, even today most women travel over 6 miles to gather water for their families.
WaterStep moved out of our former building on Arlington Ave. 6 months ago. But, when you teach hand pump repair on a stout platform made of steel posts, i-beams, and 12 ft lumber legs housing large hand pumps from around the world it’s no easy task to move.

The WaterStep platform in process of dis-assembly
The WaterStep platform in process of dis-assembly

Last Tuesday, thanks to Kiel Thomson Construction and his team, the platform has been torn out in order for it to be redesigned, reassembled and enhanced at 625 Myrtle. Two weeks ago we hosted our final hand pump training event at this old site. Our new space begs for exponential leaps in possibility and we are up for the challenge as we transplant the hand pump repair school.
Participants training on Hand Pump Repair at the Arlington location
Participants in hand pump repair class at the Arlington water school

Back to Burkino Faso . . . That hand pump, just a few yards from my cot, was called an India Mark II. Perhaps the most popular hand pump in the world. One day, it didn’t work and needed repair. I didn’t understand how inconvenient this was for the morning ladies because I got my water from the compound mess hall. Today, it’s all I think about.
My granddaughter just turned seven. She would have been at water hauling age a long time ago. In 1983, I knew nothing about the India Mark II pump nor the opportunity costs hauling water has on a young girls life. I do now. We teach how to repair these robust pumps, and I’ve included their history below.
Over one million hand pumps are in need of repair in Africa alone. One pump company reports that over 20,000 hand pumps on operational wells break each year and are forgotten. But, the pumps can be repaired, often times for just a few dollars. Having the tools and knowledge to repair them makes these simple hand pumps a very sustainable investment for a community.
Hand pump repair skills being shared in country
Hand pump repair taught in country

At WaterStep, we teach hand pump repair so people can take the tools and the knowledge into places like the desert bush of Burkino Faso. Today in Burkino Faso my lady friends don’t have to wait for someone to come fix their pump. Their community has the training and the equipment to do it themselves. It saves time and saves lives.
Learn a little more.
Read the brief history,How Three Handpumps Revolutionised Rural Water Supplies
Share this with a friend and find someone that wants to help make a difference.
Learn more about hand pump repair with WaterStep and sign up for training.
The stars will be fading soon.
I hear voices in the distance.
Here’s to the ladies coming for water.

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