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Hand pumps with built-in filters

Providing safe and clean drinking water by augmenting widely used hand pumps with a built-in filter

Photo of Anders Tse
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The majority of rural Indian villages depend on hand-operated water pumps for drinking water. However, the water being full of impurities can end up adversely affecting the health of people drinking it. This is a serious and challenging problem to solve.

Our idea of installing a filter within the already existing and widely used hand-operated water pumps aims to provide safe drinking water without upsetting the social fabric of rural Indian life. We think the biggest challenge is to integrate a solution seamlessly within the lives of the people by being cognizant of the social, economic and political structures.

We aim to supplement local and international efforts to provide an indigenous solution that is sustainable and hopefully with time, even more accessible to every man, woman and child in the rural villages of India.

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

  • Conceptual Development

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

Most if not all rural villages have hand pumps installed close to or within walking distance. The government subsidizes these hand pumps and continues to build more. Our concept can be extended to all areas with sufficient ground water reserves. This will affect a significant proportion of the rural population in India in accessing clean drinking water.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

Our idea depends on already tapped into water resources (spring water or underground water). The filter would have to be replaced around every 3-4 years, depending upon the frequency with which the hand pump is used.

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

We have two sources of financing: 1) The government and international organizations could subsidize this concept. The Indian government is already providing subsidies for provision of water in rural areas. 2) Additional revenue will be generated from leasing out space on hand pumps for advertising. Please refer to image #3 for an example.

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

Water is Life ( This organization already has the technology for purifying water through a straw. We think this can potentially be integrated into our concept.

In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

If you have been operating in India, what has been your focus?

Anurag has worked for about 8 years as a civil servant in the Indian government.

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • No

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

Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha & Marathwada region of Maharashtra, Telangana

Tell us a bit about yourself.

We are all graduate students at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University. We come from India, Pakistan, and California. Together, we are passionate about water and sanitation in countries like India because we believe clean drinking water is a basic human right. Anurag has personally witnessed people struggling to access clean water in India. Our aim is to provide the most vulnerable users the chance to freely consume safe and clean water.


Join the conversation:

Photo of ManonZ

Hello Anders,

I love the concept as uncleaned water is a real issue in developing countries. I was wandering if such purifier water system that you and your team invented could give birth to a portable prototype or if it is purely based on a water system that would be directly drilled into the soil, hence not mobile ?

Photo of Phil Li

Love this idea, especially the revenue model!  Even though this idea is so much simpler and more practical than many here, I think it's worthwhile to think through the maintenance.  Who is the best person in the village to change out filters on schedule, ensure it is working well, etc?   How do we compensate them?  How can we make sure advertisers will go for this?  It seems businesses can be loathe to target poor people as customers until someone else shows them it's profitable.  I am thinking about Magic Jackson early challenges in particular, getting investors for inner city cinemas.  Are you thinking the likes of Coca-Cola and Cell Phone companies? Can local businesses afford this spot?

Photo of Anders Tse

Thank you so much Phil Li ! Your insightful questions are super helpful in getting our team to dive deeper into our concept. Our team is currently in the process of hashing out the logistics of who would maintain the mechanics of the pumps. We were thinking of possibly assigning government workers to this job or training someone at each local village to execute this task. Thoughts?

In regards to advertising, we envision large organizations in e-commerce, tech, consumer packaging industries, and more, to subscribe to our advertising space. I believe companies that have an extensive CSR portfolio or plans to engage in social impact would be happy to support our filtered water pump. Even better if the business' products and services are related to water and sanitation- this would ensure alignment and mutual gains. 

Photo of David Fairburn

Interesting idea. Are you familiar with Lotus Water ( It's a startup that came out of Stanford that disinfects at the pump. Very similar to your idea- check it out!

Photo of Anders Tse

Thanks a bunch David Fairburn ! Lotus Water's concept is definitely what we had in mind when coming up with this concept. It's awesome to see that this is actually happening. Our team's purpose behind this filtered hand pump in India was to really attack the direct cause of water-borne diseases. 

Photo of Shane Zhao

Interesting concept Anders and team! As you continue to develop this, you might be curious to check out the Maji Safi portable water filter idea from Blake: Portable Water Filtration (Maji Safi) Perhaps there might be opportunities to collaborate?

Photo of Anders Tse

Thanks for making the connection Shane Zhao ! Blake's concept sounds neat. My team will look into it some more. :)