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Adopt-A-Pump: Mimicking the Successful Adopt-A-Highway Model to Sanitation in India

This idea encourages businesses/organizations to provide financial resources to upkeep a water pump in exchange for the advertising space

Photo of David Fairburn
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One of the major challenges to sustainably installing a hand pump to deliver clean water is the question of who’s to pay for the pump? Who’s to care for the pump? Where to put the pump? Who will maintain the pump?

In this idea we suggest teaming with organizations with a proven record of successfully extending a product or service related to health to developing countries. Examples include the World Health Organization and their ability to provide free vaccination programs to developing communities. Once an organization with a proven record has been chosen, the local government in India should work with this organization to use the organization’s algorithm or decision making process to decide where best to install a hand pump. The organization the government has teamed with would also provide their health service to the target community near the hand pump.

In the case of the World Health Organization, the local government would work with the WHO to determine the best location to provide a bundled service with a hand pump (provided by the government) and whatever service WHO is providing. By working together to bundle water with another public health service will have several benefits, including:

  • Creating community awareness of the services being provided
  • An appreciation for clean water by associating it with the other public service being provided by the company with the proven record
  • A common area dedicated to public health and wellness


By partnering with a company with a proven and successful commitment to public health, the local government of India can successfully use their  partner’s experience and algorithms to determine where to put in a hand pump and create public awareness and hype about the public health services. However, the issue still remains of who is to maintain the pump and who is to pay for it.

After creating public awareness and hype, the local government should encourage Local Champions to come forward and bid to “Adopt The Pump”. In so doing, the Local Champion would pledge to provide money to maintain the operations of the pump. This money would be given to the government to maintain and upkeep the pump. If the government has a public works department, maintain the pump can be added to their duties.

The Local Champion to adopt the pump can be an individual, organization, company, or otherwise. Once “Adopting the Pump” the Local Champion will be granted space to advertise on and near the pump as a return for the money they have given the government; it provides them the opportunity to brand the water pump with their logo and name while providing the community clean and reliable water. This plan is inspired by the successful “Adopt-a-Highway” in the United States.

The Local Champion to adopt the pump should be close to the where the pump is located so that they feel the effects of the conditions of the pump. For instance, if the pump is operating well, the Local Champion’s advertising will have a positive connotation. If the pump is in disoperation, the Local Champion will soon notice that their advertising is having a negative connotation, and it will be able to alert and work with the Government to remedy any issues. By making the Local Champion close to the pump, it encourages accountability and sustainability of the operations and upkeep of the water service.

This is beneficial to community members because they will not bear the burden of financially providing for the water and will still reap the benefits of clean water.

How would you describe the stage of development of your idea?

  • Conceptual Development

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

While this idea is not inherently scalable, the principles it invokes are scalable. For instance instead of Adopting a Pump, a company or organization can adopt a full scale water treatment plant, wastewater treatment plant, communal sanitation facilities, etc.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

In this idea, the Local Champion takes on consequences should the pump become inoperable, unsafe, and otherwise unpleasant to use. In the event that one of these things occurs, the Local Champion will feel its effects because its advertising will be on and near the hand pump. In order to avoid bad publicity, the Local Champion will have incentive to ensure that the pump is in working condition and is an enjoyable experience for all.

What types of financing would be required for your idea to be successful?

Sourcing required for this idea would be initial startup capital in order to purchase and install the pump. After a Local Champion has won the bid to “Adopt the Pump”, the source of operation and maintenance funding would come from the Local Champion.

If you are proposing to partner with other organizations, please explain their role and reason for partnership.

We propose that in order to first crate public awareness and hype as well as pinpoint the best location to place a hand pump, the local government of India should work with a company/organization with a proven track record of successfully providing and extending public health services.

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • No

What states or districts will you target/are you targeting within India?

The areas that we will target are communities and neighborhoods with an accountable local government, preferably with a Public Works Department of some sort.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

David Fairburn-I am an Environmental Engineer passionate about water and wastewater engineering. I believe unlocking human potential begins by providing reliable water and sanitation. The problem of providing safe water and sanitation lies at an intersection of numerous fields. It is this field of interdisciplinary work that makes water and sanitation in developing countries so exciting for me. Grappling and tackling these multidisciplinary problems is what makes me tick. Kira Gardner-I am a Masters Student at Stanford University studying Materials Science. I like working at the intersection of complex technological science and the realm in which these technologies will impact people’s lives. The field of water and sanitation is a function of both technology and its applications, so this field matches my interests perfectly. I like the idea of being able to positively impacting the world either by designing technology or implementing its uses in societies.

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Photo of Anders Tse
Team

I like the incorporation of the World Health Organization and the Local Champions. Would there be enough Local Champions to access the isolated rural villages?

Our team posted a similar idea here: Hand pumps with built-in filters . We are open to collaboration if you are interested.

Photo of David Fairburn
Team

Hi Anders,

Thanks for your comment. You definitely rise a good point about the availability of Local Champions in rural villages. Ideally, our intervention would be targeted at communities with a a stable government and a rising middle/upper class. There are many ways you can turn the Rubiks cube to incorporate government, the lower class, and the middle/lower class. 

Our team is definitely interested in collaborating. I just read through your whole post and love it! Myself and my other teammate are based out of Stanford. Feel free to add me on facebook or twitter (@DMFairburnn) and we can direct message; I'd prefer to not post my email address on here haha!