During the 1970s UNICEF became a key partner with the Government of India in the world’s largest rural water supply programme.
UNICEF brought drilling rigs to India which could drill boreholes in hard rock. The Government supplied handpumps.
A problem arose. The handpumps, designed for single family use, were not up to the wear and tear of use by a community of 500 or more people.
India needed a strong, locally manufactured handpump which could be easily maintained.
This need led to the development of the India Mark II, now the world’s most famous handpump.
UNICEF worked with the government’s Mechanical Engineering Research and Development Organisation and Richardson and Cruddas, a government-owned engineering company, to develop the India Mark II, but the story began in Maharashtra where the Sholapur Pump was already in use. This pump was strong and well engineered; it became the basis for the design of India Mark II.
The India Mark II, and the later India Mark III, are now exported to more than forty countries around the world.