In Sept 07, we were invited to join Corinne on her visit to Malawi, to see the work that Pump Aid is doing. Corinne is an ambassador for the water charity, and it didn't take us long to see why she chose to support this incredible group of people.
We were met and looked after by Ian Thorpe and his colleague Tendai, who started the charity together ten years ago when they witnessed the tragic consequences that dirty water can bring to a community; Ian had moved out to Zimbabwe to volunteer as a teacher, working alongside Tendai, but they were horrifed to come to school one morning to learn one of their young female students had died in the night after drinking water contaminated by a dead snake. The incident changed the men's lives and they immediately set about designing, constructing and engineering a new kind of water pump - one that would be cheap, simple to build, simple to install, would be made from locally sourced materials and could be maintainted by the villagers themselves.
They took on board several key points: firstly, that there IS water available (it's just a small matter of reaching it); secondly that there are already many existing wells that can be adapted and utilised; and finally, that so many other pumps were not only extremely expensive to build, but they were also too complex for the villagers to be able to deal with if there were any problems - meaning that when those pumps would break down (as they often do), the villagers would again be without water until an engineer happened to be passing their town - which would sometimes take months.
So, the Pump Aid design took on board all of these factors, and then Ian and his team went one step further - they realised that there was no point building these pumps unless they provided some sort of education in sanitation, to further prevent contamination from dirty hands.
But rather than just put all this in words, you can see for yourself just how practical, logical and lifesaving these pumps are; while we were in Malawi, we made a video for the bottled water company Thirsty Planet, whose brand was created to raise funds for Pump Aid and who, through the tireless efforts of Paul Martin and his team, has already gathered enough money to fund nearly 3,000 pumps - giving 1.5million people access to clean water...