Updated Jun 17, 2019

Rope and Washer Technology for Water Lifting

Part of Texas A&M University

Introduce low cost irrigation with water lifting: wheel with a continuous loop of rope with pistons that fit with a small clearance in the pump pipe; installed in hand-dug wells.


Nicole Lefore

Send Message

Stage 5: Scaling

Ethiopian government policy promotes R & W pumps. Donors support R & W pumps, including for WASH. ILSSI cost-benefit on scaling suggests R & W can improve yield and income, but do not reduce labor required significantly; impact is constrained.

Focus Areas:

Water Management, Agriculture, Climate Change and Resilience and 1 MoreSEE ALL

Water Management, Agriculture, Climate Change and Resilience and NutritionSEE LESS

Implemented In:


EthiopiaSEE LESS

Country Implemented In
Verified Funding


Limited ability to improve income, nutrition, resilience in rainfed areas. Need to introduce dry season and supplemental irrigation. Technology needed for water lifting and improved water resources management while reducing labor requirements.



Low cost, shallow groundwater lifting technology that moderately reduces time required for abstraction of water for irrigation and domestic needs, such as WASH.

Target Beneficiaries

Farmers at the household level

Innovation Description

The modern Rope and washer pump is a highly efficient and low-cost pump, it can be produced with local materials and can be truly operated and maintained at a village level. The basic design has a wheel with a continuous loop of rope with pistons that fit with a small clearance in the pump pipe. The low end of this pipe is at the bottom of the well. By turning the wheel, the rope passes up through the PVC pump pipe and pushes the water up. At the top end of the pump pipe, the diameter increases and the water comes out via a Tee piece. They can pump water from up to 25 meters underground.

Competitive Advantage

Moderate improvement over buckets and watering cans for irrigation of small plots and high value horticulture crops. Cost effective, can be produced and repaired locally (with training) for maintenance.

Planned Goals and Milestones

No scaling anticipated; most farmers do not prefer the R & W pump over other mechanized options.

The Team Behind the Innovation

ILSSI collaborates with international CGIAR Centers, including IWMI, ILRI and IFPRI, as well as national partner universities and agriculture research institutes, which include linkages with extension and farmers. We also have a network of private sector technology suppliers. This integrated partnerships allows us to access expertise from all regions of the world, across numerous disciplines - and supports innovative methods and field work.



Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In