A treadle pump is a simple, cheap, and effective device for lifting water. In this technology, bamboo levers are pushed repeatedly by foot to provide the driving power to lift water. This simple device is relatively easy to install and maintain and is environmentally friendly. Three types of treadle pumps are in common use; all three use the cylinder and paddle concept, but the model which uses a cylinder 8.9 cm in diameter and has bamboo paddles is the one most commonly favoured by farmers in the region. It is cheaper and can lift more water than a comparable hand pump. On average, a treadle pump can be used to lift water from about 6 m underground and one such pump can irrigate as much as 0.34 ha of land (depending on the soil type and other conditions). In addition to lifting water for irrigation, the treadle pump can also be used for a variety of domestic purposes. In the Terai areas of Nepal, it is also widely used as a means of generating income.
When farmers consider installing a treadle pump, they first need to verify whether there is sufficient groundwater to merit the expense. Treadle pumps should be installed by trained technicians and properly maintained throughout their lifetime. If possible, an extra set of spare parts should always be kept on hand and a trained technician should be consulted for major repairs.
WOCAT database reference: QT NEP 32
Location: Banke, Bardiya, Dailekh, Surkhet, Kaski, Dhanusha, Kapilbastu, Rupandehi, Jhapa, and Salyan Districts, Nepal.
Technology area: >1,000 km2
Conservation measure(s): Structural
Land Use: Annual cropping
Stage of intervention: Prevention of land degradation
Related approach: Not described
Compiled by: Purusottam Gupta, IDE-Nepal
Date: May 2011, updated March 2013
General comments: This technology is used by more than one and half million people in different countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, and Nepal. More than thirty thousand people have treadle pumps in Nepal. Treadle pumps are also a useful means of generating income for smallholder farmers in the Terai area of Nepal.