Efficient Water Lifting Devices

Improving the Efficiency of Water Lifting Devices in Rural Areas: A Livelihood Approach


Groundwater and surface water are important sources of irrigation and domestic water use. The overall purpose of the project is to increase the efficiency of water lifting devices, ensuring optimum delivery of water per unit of energy used in each context, with a view to enhance the awareness and participation of the people in water supply and use decisions. Since water-lifting devices often involve female labour, they must be designed to reduce drudgery, give women control over water resources and use energy efficiently. The main objectives of the project are:

  1. To identify, inventories and classify all the water-lifting devices in the village(s) by source of water and power used.
  2. To estimate the energy consumption for each of the devices used, per unit volume or weight of water lifted, per meter.
  3. To identify and develop alternatives in design or choice of equipment / spare parts or organizational changes for water lifting devices that can save energy costs per unit of water lifted per unit height.

Materials Required

Since the data / information would be collected by actual measurement and monitoring of water-lifting devices in rural areas, only basic materials such as note book, pen / pencil etc. are needed, along with measuring tape, graduated buckets for measuring volume etc.


  1. Locate the project in an area where water-lifting devices are used.
  2. Map and list sources of water and water-lifting devices in operation and also the layout of houses in the village-by economic condition, caste or social criteria if any.
  3. Each region / village may have special designs of the Persian wheel, wind milli-pump, treadle pump, diesel pump or any animal drawn wheel to lift water.
  4. This project needs a survey of all traditional and modern water-lifting devices that are being used in the region. Those that were earlier used and can be identified can also be documented.
  5. Tabulate the devices, sources of power, power rating of each device if marked (if not marked, find from local shop-keeper), number of households, number of devices per household, labour used per day for water-lifting, time for which it is used, (each day on an average), amount of water lifted / used per day, the height it is lifted from the ground, no. of members in the household, average household income etc.
  6. The next step is to calculate / estimate the total energy consumed by each of these sources-using appropriate units of energy, and the energy used per unit volume (litre) or weight (kilogram) of water lifted.
  7. Find out the rationale for the source of energy-how is the energy source linked to other household features? Do households with more adult women collect more water? Is it because of availability of free female labour? Do households with draught animals use them for water-lifting etc?

Data Analysis

Since water lifting devices have been adapted to and adopted in specific rural contexts, find out the rationale of these technological choices that people make. Are there many options to choose from? Find out the constraints they face whether in power supply? Access? In income / purchasing power? In water needs? Further, list the constraints against each device listed in the classification above. Children must also be encouraged to ask why certain water-lifting devices are ideal for the region-even if energy efficiency may not be at its best. In fact, animal operated water lifting devices are used in areas where commercial power (diesel or electricity) are not available or reliable and where animals are kept anyway
for draught purposes and hence used for lifting purpose (without any additional costs incurred). These linkages of appropriate water-lifting devices to the social and economic profile of each household must be made explicit. Children must try and be able to explain why and how technologies are adapted to specific rural and ecological contexts. Also try and analyse, whether there is a social dimension / discrimination in the water-lifting devices available and
their location in the village.


Based on observation results obtained, try to look for better energy and costs effective designs of water-lifting devices appropriate in the region. Further, the information obtained, the tabulation and interpretation can be fed into the decision-making body of the village, whence people can respond to children’s findings about energy use, preferences, reasons for preferring one over the other, changes needed etc. Their comments are also to be noted down. Publicize your findings and responses of both your community and the water-authority-as charts / posters etc.


Source: Harness water resources for a better future - Activity Guide for the 13th National Children's Science Congress