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‘Ingeniously simple’ design transforming lives in Africa at Christmas

University of Bath engineering graduate has launched a fundraising campaign to provide poor farmers in Africa with a novel pump design to help them take their steps out of poverty.

First hand experience

David Hutton, 27, who graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bath, first designed the ‘flexipump’ at university after living and volunteering in Zambia where he witnessed the struggles facing farmers trying to earn a living. Upon graduating in 2010, David travelled back to Zambia to field test the ‘flexipump’ with local farmers.

The ‘flexipump’ is a simple but effective irrigation pump which allows subsistence farmers to easily and efficiently pump water to their crop yields. Water sources such as wells or streams may be considerable distances away from crops and this device means farmers can disregard using irrigation buckets which can be a strenuous and time consuming process.

Weighing just 2.5kg, it is able to pump from a water source six metres below ground and pump another 10 metres above or 100 metres along the ground. Described by Sir James Dyson as ‘ingeniously simple’, the ‘flexipump’ allows farmers to pump up to 1,600 litres an hour and can irrigate a quarter of an acre, allowing them to increase their crop yields, feed their family and ultimately earn a greater income.

Post a Pump

David has launched the Post a Pump crowd funding campaign with the aim of getting as many ‘flexipumps’ as possible into the hands of farmers who couldn't otherwise afford them.

The campaign will run on a micro-loan scheme in which the public are invited to sponsor the first round of pumps which will be delivered to in-need farmers. The beneficiary farmers will be provided with the kits on an interest free loan basis and once they have generated enough income, they will pay back the cost of the pump.

Once the loan repayments are made, David and his team will repeat the process and fund a second round of pumps which he hopes to be able to repeat many times over, reaching as many farmers as possible.

'Exciting potential'

Commenting on the campaign, David said: “I am really excited about the potential for Post a Pump. This campaign could give 50,000 in need people the opportunity to step out of poverty over the next 10 years. We aim to initially distribute 1000 ‘flexipump’ irrigation kits to small-scale farmers in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. A ‘Flexipump’ and hose kit costs just £95.

“One ‘flexipump’ can easily benefit 10 people, so the first round of pumps will potentially give 10,000 people the opportunity to help themselves.

“We are hopeful that this micro loan structure will enable us to distribute 5,000 ‘flexipump’ kits over the next 10 years helping 50,000 people out of poverty! That works out as only £1.90 per person!”

WATCH: 83 year old Alice Mthembo using the flexipump

The Post a Pump campaign which ends on Christmas Day provides members of the public with the opportunity to purchase an alternative present – a contribution which will make a significant difference to a poor farmer thousands of miles away.

If you would like to help us support future students like David, with great ideas for products that might change the world, or the drive to start their own company, you can contribute today to our 50th Anniversary fundraising campaign: http://50years.bath.ac.uk/about/

More information about the ‘flexipump’ and Post a Pump campaign can be found at www.flexipump.com and www.postapump.com respectively.

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