Pumping fresh water with wind

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A pilot water pumping project for Ethiopia could save many lives, says a charitable group based in San Francisco, Bridge to Africa. It is trying to raise about $150,000 to build and ship a prototype water pumping windmill to the town of Kaliti near Addis Ababa for a demonstration project. So far $3500 has been raised, says J.J. Hollingsworth of the group. Data on wind speed and water depth have already been collected, she adds. Ken Cohn of Second Wind is on the board of Bridge to Africa and is also technical advisor for the "Ethiopia Windmill Project." The idea is that small-scale irrigation can eventually be powered by wind -- not by diesel pumps that need fuel and costly maintenance. Tadios Amare, who is working with the group, says that when diesel-power pumpers break down, people turn to contaminated surface water for drinking. "Eighty per cent of illnesses arise from contaminated water," says Amare, who lives in Vallejo, California. "And 250,000 Ethiopian children die each year from water borne diseases," he told the Vallejo Times Herald. He and his colleagues used to send medications to Ethiopia. "Then we realised we were failing to get at the root of the problemÉ That's how the windmill idea came up." Bridge to Africa also hopes to teach Ethiopians how to build, install and maintain windmills, perhaps even prompting the development of renewable electricity in Ethiopia, where the metal working industry is operating at only 20% capacity.

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