Cultural sensitivity. Now there is a phrase not often found in design circles. But it is one of key drivers for Pump Aid, who work with Shona communities in Zimbabwe to help them build 'Elephant Pumps'. Drawing on a 2,000 year old Chinese design the pump has been adapted to African villages, where it can provide clean, accessible water. (Pump Aid suggest that "more than three million people die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water".) Using technology that has local currency, the well is built with local sand, stone and handmade bricks. The rope plugs, integral to the design, are made by melting and moulding local waste plastics. A pump to serve 500 people can be made for a total cost of about £200 ($350 USD), with the major components having a lifespan of 50 years. "Pump Aid is demand driven and employs fully participatory techniques such as appreciative enquiry, workshops, demonstration days, public meetings" etc. The pump is hand powered powered, but can be adpated to wind, solar or even a bicycle. 21 other African countries have lined up to implement similar projects. Pump Aid's success has recently been recognised internationally, by winning the St Andrews Prize for the Environment , an initiative of the University of St Andrews in Scotland (and oddly sponsored by energy company, ConocoPhillips.) Found in New Scientist More at ::Pump Aid
An elephant pump is operation. (see more pics and animations on the site.)
In the past we've also noted Demotech who have a similar pump idea.