2014 – DIY Water Pump

urban ag / izindaba zokudla / appropriate technology / industrial design / small-scale farming

Umoya Pump: The Participatory Design of an Off-Grid Irrigation Pump for Urban Farmers in Soweto

Werner Charles Jacobsz, BTech Industrial Design, 2014.
Supervised by Angus D. Campbell & Dr. Naudé Malan

Provisional Patent: 2014/08762: IRRIGATION PUMP

The aim of the study was to design an off-grid pump for urban farmers in Soweto and additionally to educate the farmers on water saving irrigation techniques. The design of the off-grid pump was developed through an action research methodology, specifically Participatory Technology Development. The initial literature review focused on topics of water pump technology, food security and sustainability. Field research was conducted with urban farmers at Lakeview Primary in Soweto where various issues of water management and access to water existed. The school has a functioning municipal water source, but the school board claimed that the water bill they pay monthly was too high, this placed the farmers using the school infrastructure under pressure. There was a broken borehole and river next to the school and it was these sources which were explored in terms of a design intervention. The resulting off-grid irrigation pump provided the farmers with the opportunity to become more self-sufficient and its design enabled easy replication for use on other urban agricultural sites. This study formed part of the broader Izindaba Zokudla project which aims at uncovering issues surrounding small-scale urban farming in Soweto through discussions and conversations with actively involved participants.

Werner’s blog which he authored during the field work of the project can be accessed here

The step-by-step guide to make the final version of this water pump can be downloaded here: No. 1 in the Izindaba Zokudla Make Your Own Series of DIY Technology Guides: How to Make Your Own Water Pump


This work is based on the research supported in part by the NRF for the Thuthuka grants held by Angus D. Campbell titled Designing Development: An Exploration of Technology Innovation by Small-scale Urban Farmers in Johannesburg and by Dr. Naudé Malan titled Innovation in the Soweto Food System: Engaging with Soweto Agriculture. Any opinion, finding and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the authors and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.