CHILDREN at play can be harnessed to boost water supplies in poor South African townships, engineers were told at a meeting of the Appropriate Development Panel (ADP) at the ICE last week.
Engineers were shown a video of local children being encouraged to play on a roundabout - which is actually a water pump.
The rotational movement drives a pump fitted beneath the roundabout, which then draws water from a well into an overhead reservoir.
The video revealed that the stored water is then used to irrigate local gardens, tended by the villagers who would usually be spending much of their time pumping water.
Better still, the system does not cost the local community a penny, as it is paid for by revenue from advertising hoardings on the overhead reservoir.
The 'playpump' was one of several ideas shown during the presentation of the ADP's 'Hands-on' video series, published by the Intermediate Technology Development Group.
Another showed how women villagers in Bangladesh had been encouraged to use their saris to filter cholera out of river water.
Large scale innovations included fresh water supply to an isolated Greek island, achieved by towing huge 2M litre plastic bags instead of more expensive tankers.
Speaking at the presentation, ICE fellow and ADP chair Peter Cameron said that engineering was not always about large scale projects such as 'sexy dams'.
He added that communicating ideas and developing simple sustainable systems for underdeveloped countries were just as important to improve people's lives.