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Colorado Engineer Could Help Millions In Africa

Mines Water Pump
Current Pump (credit: CBS)

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) - An invention by a Colorado engineer could change the lives of millions of people in Africa.

Niger in west Africa is one of the poorest countries in the world. Eighty percent of the nation is desert and the only way to get water to farms is to carry it.

"I've always had a place in my heart for helping people," said engineer Dirk Long.

Long was on a humanitarian mission in Niger two years ago with his wife when he saw brigades of woman and children carrying buckets of water for miles to irrigate crops.

"All just to meet daily needs, not running a business, just eating. It just seemed like there should be a better way to do that. As an engineer I'm a problem solver," said Long.

Long worked nights and weekends to design the Current Pump. It uses the river's current to pump water.

"The design we have is 55 gallon drum with coils of tube in it. As the drum turns in the river the tube fills up and each coil adds more pressure. So when it comes out of the barrel going through 30 coils of tube, it can pump that water up to a farm," said Long.

Long is a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines and he went there to seek help for work on his prototype.

Aaron Faulker, Nicole Davis and Logan Ramseier are senior mechanical engineers who are now helping perfect the pump and hoping to help change lives.

"I grew up farming and I know how tough it can be. I know I wouldn't want be carrying buckets of water," said Ramseier.

In addition to the students, Long is working with two friends to get the project off the ground.

"To see one farmer's life change would be amazing," said Long.

Their goal is to get 20 pumps into Niger in the next year, but they need help. The pumps cost over $100 each. They've launched a website and crowd funding site to help raise money.

LINKS: Project Website | Funding Website

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