Press Releases

IFC supports the expansion of Merry-go-round water pumps to Mozambique

In Washington:
Ellen Olafsen (IFC)

Phone: +1 202-473-5020


In Johannesburg:

Colin Shepherd (IFC):

Phone: +27 11 731 3013


Washington D.C., September 12, 2005 – The South African company producing merry-go-rounds that pump clean water while children play is expanding its operations to Mozambique. Roundabout ( currently has 700 PlayPumps installed in remote communities in South Africa. The firm is now taking its proven model to Mozambique; the first Pump is in the ground with 99 more to be installed over the next year.  Next in line is Swaziland, where installations will start later this year.

These are the first steps in an Africa-wide expansion plan, backed by the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank. The aim is to expand PlayPumps in partnership with others to additional countries where lack of access to water is pressing such as Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya in the near future.

The unique water pumps are driven by a children's ‘merry-go-round’ or ‘roundabout’, which  provide fun playground equipment for rural children, and at the same time extract clean drinking water from underground boreholes at a much more efficient rate than conventional handpumps.

To ensure operational sustainability after the PlayPump has been installed, maintenance is provided by training a local entrepreneur and is funded by the revenues generated from commercial and public health advertising placed on overhead water storage tanks. Donated funds cover the initial cost of drilling boreholes and producing and installing the Pumps.

A more efficient and reliable supply of clean water has a number of advantages for local communities including reducing water-born illnesses and relieving head and neck strain caused by carrying heavy loads of water over long distances. It also frees up time from collecting water, which can be spent at school or on income generating activities. As fetching water traditionally is carried out by the females in the household, this particularly benefits women and girls in the communities where Play-Pumps are installed.

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 300 million people lack adequate access to safe drinking water.

“Where PlayPumps have been installed, the impact has been tremendous. Impact can be increased by scaling up Roundabout’s operations and replicating their sustainable model to other countries in Africa, and perhaps beyond” said Harold Rosen, Director of IFC’s Grassroots Business Initiative. GBI is an initiative that seeks to strengthen, scale-up and replicate social enterprises that create sustainable opportunities for the poor.

Richard Ranken, Director of IFC’s Africa department added: “Roundabout is an example where the innovation and experience of a private sector firm is leveraged to deliver big results on the grassroots level. This is the type of projects we aim to support through programs such as the Grassroots Business Initiative.”

Support for the installation of PlayPumps in Mozambique was provided by the World Food Programme, UNICEF, TNT, the Mozambique Departments of Education and Water Affairs, the Canadian Development Agency (CIDA) and the Lemelson Foundation.

For more information about IFC’s Grassroots Business Initiative please visit

The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

Trevor Field (Roundabout PlayPumps)
Phone: +27 11 807 4280/83 577-7724