The Elephant Pump
The Elephant Pump is a multi-award winning water pump which was originally based upon a 2000 year old Chinese technology for lifting water. Ian Thorpe invented the pump after witnessing the deaths of two pupils at the school he was teaching at in Zimbabwe. Through utilising the locally available materials in Zimbabwe, Ian was able to construct a pump which was significantly cheaper than comparable hand pumps for water extraction in Rural Africa. There are now over 5,000 pumps currently active in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Uganda. Of the 5,000 pumps that have been installed, 95% are still in operation today – a figure 40% above the average for Africa.
The Elephant Pump was recognised by The World Bank and St. Andrews Medal for the Environment for its cost effectiveness, reliability and user friendliness. In 2005 Ian Thorpe collected the St Andrews Medal for the Environment after a record 260 entrants competed for the prestigious prize. Prince Charles, patron for the award personally described the Elephant Pump as a method of water extraction which is ‘inexpensive, simple to make and repair and made from locally available materials which give users a greater sense of ownership’. (Video link below) Ian Thorpe would later on become the first person ever to receive the prize twice after designing and developing the Elephant Toilet. The following year The Elephant Pump received the World Bank Development Marketplace award for Water, Sanitation and Energy. Ian was competing with 2,500 entrants from over one hundred countries for the award.
The Elephant Pump program continues to expand its operations in Zimbabwe and Malawi today, however our vision is for all NGO organisations operating in rural Africa to take advantage of this money saving technology. At present the Elephant Pump is on average 60% cheaper than comparable alternatives currently being installed, if all charitable organisations utilised the advantages of this technology, double the amount of people would already have access to safe drinking water.