Solar-powered water pumps

In drought-affected areas of Kenya, women must walk miles to find water, risking violence or animal attack, in order to sustain their families and animals. They do this with the knowledge that the dirty water they have collected may well make their children very ill.

Working with community members, Practical Action developed a solar powered water pump that can pump up to 30,000 litres of clean water per day.

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Using the overabundance of sunshine, the solar pump draws water from a 100-metre-deep well, providing families with the water that they desperately need and rendering cases of water-related diseases a thing of the past.

Drought in East Africa

East Africa is in the grip of a devastating drought. Although we're not a relief agency, Practical Action are working with local communities to understand how we can support them now, and in the longer term. Read the latest update

If you would like to support our work in Kenya during this extremely difficult time, donate here.

  1. A protected hole is drilled 100m down into the earth to reach a water source.
  2. A solar panel made of photovoltaic modules powers an electric motor - which in turn powers an underground water pump. This pump can draw up to 30,000 litres of clean, fresh water, every single day.
  3. All of this fresh water is stored in a water tank. The tank is then connected to water pumps and taps around the village by a system of pipes.
  4. Local villagers are then able to access fresh, clean water without having to travel long distances.
  5. Families now have that most basic need - to be able to drink clean water. They can enjoy a life free from the constant fear of water-borne diseases.

    Also, because they no longer have to spend hours searching for water, children have the time to go to school and women can grow vegetables to sell at the local market.

Read more about how the technology works in this technical brief from our technical information service, Practical Answers:

Solar Photovoltaic Waterpumping

Understand the advantages and disadvantages of solar photovoltaic water pumping are outlined in this document including real world application.

More technical information on water pumping

How solar panels work

How solar panels work

Graphic from SaveOnEnergy, with permission

"Before there were problems with illness, infection and contamination. If people had to walk long distances for water they were often attacked."

For years, Patience and the people of Turkana in northern Kenya have suffered persistent periods of drought. Finding water for their families means walking up to 10km (6 miles) in the searing heat to dried-up river beds, running the risk of attack on the way. Forced to then dig 'scoop holes' with their bare hands, uncovering small amounts of dirty, contaminated water that they have no choice but to drink.

By working with the communities in the heart of Turkana, we partnered with local people to develop a sustainable solution to the endless problems caused by drought. We developed a solar-powered water pump that uses locally-sourced equipment to pump 30,000 clean litres of clean, safe water to the village every day.

These new pumps mean Patience, and the villagers in Turkana, have access to clean, safe water every day, and they know they can drink in safety.

"The pump has made such a difference. Now we are healthier and can even grow vegetables to feed our families". - Patience Achuka

click here to donate online via secure serverYour gift will help pay for life-changing technological solutions like this and raise families out of poverty today.

£25 could help 19 people access clean water from a solar powered pump.

Find out more about the situation in Turkana with these infographics:

Why people in Africa are dying for a drink

Millions of people in Africa are still living in devastating drought conditions. They don't have access to clean water. They are literally dying for a drink. We created the following infographic to shed some light on the situation.

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Water consumption: UK v Turkana, Africa

Could you make do with 8.7 litres of water a day…dirty and contaminated water that you have to walk several miles for? We created this infographic to make people think about the amount of water they consume and raise awareness of people in Turkana, Kenya

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Solar power

Solar power employs the sun as an alternative for people who face the practical and financial difficulties associated with distributing grid electricity.

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