A watershed moment

Though, the concept of seesaw water pumps is not new in the world but it is an innovation in Pakistan. Plan International Pakistan is one of the first, if not the first, organisation to install a pilot seesaw pump in a rural community in Vehari to mark an important milestone – that of the community being declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

School girls milling around the new seesaw

School girls milling around the new seesaw

Muhammad Akbar, a former team member of Plan International Pakistan, said: “The first time I visited the local girls’ primary school (in the village), the sight of girls playing in the school yard, their energy and their vibrancy stayed with me. I thought it would be great if we could somehow harness this energy.”

Seesaw pumps can pump water from a bore, a sump or a rainwater harvesting tank without the need for electricity. The technology is very simple and easy to maintain. This makes it ideal for use in Pakistan, which suffers from an electricity shortfall.

The biggest problem was to identify manufacturers who could build and install such pumps. Since seesaw pumps had not been installed in Pakistan before, the WASH team visited different sanitation item suppliers and local mechanics to build a seesaw pump. Finally, a manufacturer named Shafiq was found who was willing to take on the project.

Plan International staff discussed details of the pump with him and showed him the pictures of seesaw pumps. He started working on this with the help of a local iron worker and prepared a design of a safe seesaw pump with supported tags and high quality wires and could bear the weight of fifteen children. For children’s safety a single piston was used to discharges water after each cycle.


The seesaw being built

When the seesaw pump had been built and installed in the school, the school teachers asked some children to try out the seesaw.

“We were surprised when the entire student body – 60 girls – gathered around us and clamoured for their turn. We divided the girls into 7 groups and asked them to use the see saw turn-by-turn. When the first group of children rode the seesaw and completed its one cycle water came out through the pipes. This was a truly joyful moments for us,” says Akbar.

Later the pipes were linked with the main water storage tank which provides water to the school.

It was also an exciting moment for Ms. Samina, the headmistress: “I cannot forget the moment when I saw the smile on the children’s faces. We had no reliable water facility in our school and the girls usually had to carry water from their homes.”

Drinking water pumped by the seesaw

Drinking water pumped by the seesaw

“I plan to invite the Executive Education Officer (EDO) to my school to suggest that seesaw pumps be replicated in other schools of the District,” she added.


About Plan Pakistan
Plan is committed to achieving a world in which all children realise their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity. Plan Pakistan’s operations commenced in 1997 and the organisation currently implements programmes and campaigns in 21 districts in all 5 provinces of Pakistan using the Child Centered Community Development (CCCD) approach.

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