TIGER Recap: How a Columbus-Based Social Enterprise Partnership is Giving Africans Access to Safe Drinking Water - Innovate New Albany | New Albany, Ohio

TIGER Recap: How a Columbus-Based Social Enterprise Partnership is Giving Africans Access to Safe Drinking Water

Everyday we have access to as much clean water as we need for hydration, irrigation, bathing, and recreation. It’s a necessity and luxury we take for granted.

But not everyone has that necessity at their fingertips. Greg Bixler, owner of Design Outreach, said there are actually over 660 million people in the world who don’t have safe drinking water, and 2,300 people die per day from diseases related to contaminated water.

Through Design Outreach, Greg has made it his mission to help alleviate poverty in developing countries by giving them access to water.

DO FullSizeRenderGreg presented, “How a Columbus-Based Social Enterprise Partnership is Giving Africans Access to Safe Drinking Water” during Innovate New Albany’s TIGER Talk luncheon on Friday, June 3. TIGER Talks are offered free of charge, and cover the topics of Technology, Innovation, Growth, Entrepreneurship and Responsibility. The TIGER Talk luncheon series is designed to help entrepreneurs “earn their stripes” toward starting and running a successful business.

An engineer by trade, Greg spends his days teaching engineering classes at The Ohio Sate University. But by night, he and Abe Wright founded Design Outreach, an organization credited with developing the LifePump, a hand-powered water pump that is reliable and can reach water in the deepest wells.

It all started after a mission trip to central Asia opened Greg’s eyes to the complexity of the problem. He said not only was there a drastic lack of water, the water they did have was contaminated. Women and children spent as much as 12 hours a day carrying water from the wells to their villages.

DO FullSizeRender-2Greg said there are 345,000 hand pumps installed in many villages in Africa, but 125,000 of them don’t function due to mechanical failure. They require parts that are discontinued, or the water is not available within the maximum of 50 meters the pumps are designed to reach. The average life expectancy of those pumps is only six to eight months.

Inspired by a discontinued hand pump produced by a company call Moyno, Greg started a coalition of partners. He assembled a group of academic professionals, researchers from Moyno, donors, non-profits and industry partners to invent the LifePump, a simple, long lasting, reliable pump that extends 100 meters.

The LifePump generates pressure at the bottom of the well, instead of requiring the water to be lifted out. It was developed using high quality components, and strong quality control measures. It can also be fitted with a monitoring device, to provide timely and valuable feedback about how often, when and how much the pump is being used. Design Outreach provides training to the locals on installation and maintenance.

The first LifePump was installed in Malawi, Africa, in 2013.

Together with World Vision and private donors, Design Outreach established The Hundred Pump Project, whose goal is to install LifePumps in 100 African countries. In addition to Malawi, they have installed the LifePump in Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Mali. They’ve also installed a LifePump in Haiti.

Always adjusting and improving, the next version of the LifePump will extend to 150 meters.

Greg played a video showing the impact the LifePump has had on the villages in Africa. They use the water to drink, make cement to build homes, and irrigate their vegetable gardens.

Greg discussed the LifePump’s value proposition based on reliability and depth. He shared their goals, which include developing a supply chain, obtaining government acceptance, increasing production capacity, and lowering the cost per pump. If they are able reach these goals by 2030, they will be have installed 10,000 pumps, providing 2.5 million people with safe drinking water.

To learn more about Design Outreach or support the LifePump project, visit their website at www.doutreach.org, or email them at info@doutreach.org.

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