Simple treadle pumps for irrigation (MMC / FAO)

An interesting message from Michael CROWN :

Needed by African farmers: simple water pumps

Finding sufficient water for irrigation is one of the major challenges facing farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. “Very often it is too expensive for small farmers to buy, run and maintain engine-driven irrigation pumps,” says Tom Brabben of the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID), sponsored by FAO, the World Bank and other donors.

Locally produced low-cost treadle pumps instead could make an important difference and could boost food security in the region significantly, as suggested by a new IPTRID report, Treadle pumps for irrigation in Africa.


Treadle pumps make it easier for farmers to retrieve water for their fields or vegetable gardens, and they are cheap and easy to handle. If pumps are produced locally, they can also create jobs and income.

Many African farmers are still irrigating very small plots of land using bucket-lifting technologies, which are slow, cumbersome and labour intensive. “Treadle pumps are far more efficient and user-friendly,” says Mr. Brabben. “They can be used in a comfortable way, the farmer stands on the treadles, pressing the pistons up and down, lifting up to five cubic metres per hour.”

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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