Trevor Field, a retired British businessman and outdoor advertising executive, was deeply moved when he observed women and girls in rural villages of South Africa shouldering the daily burden of collecting water. When he became aware of a technology that was meant to serve as both a children’s merry-go-round and community water pump, he founded Roundabout Outdoor to manufacture, install, and maintain the product, which became known as the PlayPump.
Over the next several years, the PlayPump received widespread press coverage and attracted significant funding from leading philanthropic and government sources. However, despite the broad dissemination of the product, the PlayPump failed to gain consistent, long-term adoption because, among other challenges, it was mismatched with the needs, preferences, and behaviors of its users. This mini-case study explores the PlayPump story and the important lessons that can be learned from this high profile project.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.