31 March 2004

African waterwheel

It's thought that nearly a billion and a half people around the world don't have access to safe drinking water. People often walk for miles every day to find it, which can take hours. That's why the task of getting water has been considered a difficult, tiresome job.

But that's changing in South Africa. The World's Amy Costello visited a place where getting water has actually become fun.

Kids run in a circle and push a merry-go-round faster and faster. Those who are seated on the ride, get dizzy from the speed...laughing and giddy from the force of gravity.

These kids are having so much fun, they don't seem to realize they're working. Then again, that's the idea behind the Play-Pump - a merry-go-round with a mission.

The children push the merry-go-round again and again. As they run, a device in the ground beneath them begins to turn. With every rotation of the merry-go-round, water is pumped out of a well, up through a pipe, and into a tank high above the playground.

A few feet away from all the fun, students in uniform turn on a tap. Clean, cold drinking water pours out. This is Motshegofadiwa Primary School, 15 miles north of Pretoria. It%u2019s in a town called Stinkwater; locals say there%u2019s a good reason for that name. The water around here used to smell. School Principal Peter Banyana says the water supply was also erratic before the Play-Pump arrived.

Almost too wonderful to be true...

Tip from Respectful of Otters by way of The Three-Toed Sloth.

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