Updated Jun 17, 2019

Rope and Pulley Technology for Water Lifting

Part of Texas A&M University

Introduce low cost irrigation with water lifting: pulley mechanism to make lifting buckets from shallow wells less difficult and save time.


Nicole Lefore

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Stage 5: Scaling

Technology was considered for broader scaling through field testing and cost benefit analysis. Farmer perceptions and preferences considered.

Focus Areas:

Water Management, Agriculture, Climate Change and Resilience and 2 MoreSEE ALL

Water Management, Agriculture, Climate Change and Resilience, Nutrition and GenderSEE LESS

Implemented In:


EthiopiaSEE LESS

Country Implemented In
Verified Funding


Low income, food insecurity in areas that rely mostly on rainfed production alone. Ethiopia government seeks to expand access to groundwater and expand irrigation. Challenge is how to introduce supplemental and dry season irrigation to improve yield, income, nutrition, and create resilience against climate shocks.



Provides a low-cost way to introduce irrigation and lift water from shallow wells; compared to rainfed production only. Improves observable water quality.

Target Beneficiaries

Farmers at the household level

Innovation Description

This device is mainly used with hand-dug wells. A bucket on a rope is lowered into the water. When the bucket hits the water it dips and fills, and is pulled up with the rope. The rope may be held by hand, run through a pulley, or wound on a windlass. Sometimes, animal traction is used in combination with a pulley. Improved systems use a rope through a pulley, and buckets. For water, less than 10 m deep, a windlass with a hose running from the bottom of the bucket to a spout at the side of the well can be used.

Competitive Advantage

Improvement over rainfed systems and buckets or watering cans for smallscale irrigators. Inexpensive, produced and serviced locally (with training).

Planned Goals and Milestones

No scaling activity expected; most farmers prefer and gain more income from motorized water lifting.

The Team Behind the Innovation

We team with the CGIAR (IWMI, ILRI and IFPRI), and national universities and agriculture research institutes (including extension) to enable field work and access expertise and experience globally. We also have a network of private sector companies as knowledge partners.



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New Country Implemented In