Makers and Disaster Relief: Cistern Pump Solutions Needed

Energy & Sustainability Maker News Science
Makers and Disaster Relief: Cistern Pump Solutions Needed

MAKE SOMETHING IMPORTANT! Yes, I’m yelling at you! That’s the power of ALL CAPS. It’s awesome you can build a kayak from up-cycled flip-flops or that you have the ‘scariest’ NeoPixel halloween costume in the neighborhood, but I need you to focus your MacGyver skills NOW to help people that are truly suffering after the devastating hurricanes obliterated the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. This is how you can help!

The maker community comprises some of the best problem solvers on the planet — so let’s use those super powers for doing some serious good!  The non-profit Field Ready, Building Momentum, and Maker Share have teamed up to provide you with a list of challenges that we saw, first hand, in the Caribbean. We made as many solutions as we could while we were there but we NEED YOUR HELP! Yes, still yelling… because I need you to move quickly too.

Rapidly developed solutions are urgently needed to solve these humanitarian challenges in the Caribbean. I will be returning to the islands with whatever useable solutions you provide to me and installing those solutions before Thanksgiving (fitting, right?). That is how you use your amazing maker skills to directly help humanity. And citizens affected by the hurricanes will have something to be thankful for during the holiday.

We immediately identified eight challenges that require maker-help. I will write about each one every day.

Challenge: a pump that can pull water from cisterns.

Problem: Many residents on USVI use cisterns to collect rainwater and reuse as drinking water or non-potable water. These cisterns often lie below the home or apartment and use electric pumps to bring the water up to the faucet. When there is a loss of power, the residents cannot access the water.

Solution: Develop a cistern pump that is largely or entirely made from found/upcycled materials in the USVI that can pump water up at least two stories (10m+) and is either mechanically powered or uses upcycled solar panels. Pump must be made as cheaply as possible to enable wide distribution and access.

You might be thinking “aren’t there a million pumps out there for this?” Yup. But few-to-none of them are available to much of the Caribbean population, and pumps that work on broken solar panels or are mechanically operable by injured or ailing users are even less available. We need your help with ways to overcome this.

Additionally, a clever solution that teaches locals how to continue to fabricate the pump (preferably from materials in the community) goes a long way towards empowering the local population to affect recovery directly through making. This is an important part of the challenge — can the solution actually turn survivors into makers and potentially even create small businesses building and distributing the concept locally? Now THAT would be incredible.

It doesn’t have to use all locally sourced materials, but the more the better. If you develop an incredibly efficient and easy to use pump that is powered solely by smiles and high-fives but needs a certain gasket to operate — I will figure out how to get a ton of those gaskets. Make sense?

You want to be a real-life superhero? You want to truly and directly help suffering people? Send me clever tech solutions ASAP. If it works, you’ll be an actual hero.

And if you need to get in touch with me directly, find me at:

Brad Halsey
Building Momentum, LLC.

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