Solar Pumps for the Water Crisis

1) Sustainability Problem

Water: 785 million people globally do not have sufficient access to water, which restricts them in many areas of life from hydration to sanitation to cooking to agriculture. The estimated 200 million hours spent in collecting water disproportionately affects women and children. Reliable access to water is an essential predecessor to many other improvements in a community’s development and quality of life.1 Many existing water access solutions are costly, manual, and require significant maintenance.

2) Technology Solution

Pumpmakers develops low-maintenance, self-sufficient water pumps that run off of solar power to provide access to water in rural communities. These pumps are off-grid solutions that solve for many of the issues of existing wells, which often have manual pumps that incur maintenance and repair costs the Pumpmakers’ solution can avoid. However, this automatic pump does not incur many ongoing costs since it is powered by renewable energy and its use of durable, low maintenance materials. Then, by engineering it to be a relatively simple solution and then open-sourcing the designs into a “DIY” format, they have enabled greater affordability of the product. The pump can extract 18K liters per day running at 10 hours per day. Variations of the pump even convert it into “Life Station”, which can offer WiFi hotspots for Internet access and advertising placements to subsidize the cost.2

Pumpmakers’ solar-powered water pump2

3) Stakeholders

By enabling a virtual marketplace via the “Pumpmakers Platform”, the company is empowering local communities to more holistically own the water solution.3

  1. Suppliers: Pumpmaker has an online shop where people can purchase the assembly materials
  2. Planners: Governments, NGOs, or local companies can help determine the best locations for water pumps to ensure they are implemented in optimal locations.
  3. Assemblers: The DIY approach allows many stakeholders to serve this role, from NGOs to local companies to farmers and individuals.
  4. Users: The water pump can serve a wide array of people, either a local community more holistically or an individual farmer for irrigation.2

4) Implementation

By enabling a marketplace via their “Pumpmakers Platform”, the company is striving to outsource much of the actual pump implementation process.3 Establishing this platform likely required:

  1. Engineering the desired pump solution in a simplified way that enables easy assembly, and converting the specs into digestible instructions
  2. Building an online presence with instructions, an online store, and connections or resources for ongoing support
  3. Driving adoption among stakeholders with incentives, training, network connections, and so on

Once an individual stakeholders decides to install a Pumpmaker water pump and implement it in the local community, the process requires:

  1. Planning the location
  2. Acquiring the assembly instructions and necessary materials
  3. Assembling and installing the pump



2 thoughts on “Solar Pumps for the Water Crisis

  1. Such a useful technology! Especially since so many hand pumps were broken in a region with access to clean water itself is a challenge. I like that anyone can purchase these DIY parts on their website (and multilingual website is a plus) and there are video instructions to help anyone put it together.


  2. I am curious how the Pumpmaker pumps avoid some of the maintenance and repair costs that typical pumps incur. You mention materials and renewable energy, but what more specifically? I find these new water pumps a fascinating and capacity-enhancing technology that should become more ubiquitous across all regions that lack basic water infrastructure. I especially like the wi-fi enabled add-ons to some of the them that can help subsidize the costs – brilliant.


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