2014 – Umoya 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

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.


This work is based on research supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa for the Thuthuka, unique grant number 88030 held by Angus D. Campbell and titled, Designing Development: An Exploration of Technology Innovation by Small-Scale Urban Farmers in Johannesburg, and unique grant number 88059 held by Dr. Naudé Malan and titled, Innovation in the Soweto Food System: Engaging with Soweto Agriculture. Any opinion, finding, and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material are that of the authors, and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.


Jacobsz, W., Campbell, A.D., & Malan, N. 2014. Irrigation Pump, ZA Provisional Patent 2014/08762.

Campbell, A.D. & Malan, N. 2015. No. 1 in the Izindaba Zokudla Make Your Own Series of DIY Technology Guides: How to Make Your Own Water Pump. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg. 

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