Most people who see this picture look at it and say “Now what they hey am I looking at, exactly?”
This extremely clever contraption was spotted by my friend, photographer and brilliant geographer, Zok Pavlovic, while we were out surveying Kuchi settlements in the Kabul area.
For those who are unfamiliar with Afghanistan, Kuchi are generally Pashtun nomads who tend to raise animals, and follow their grazing patterns and the seasons and live in tent. “What are Pashtun?” you may ask. Well, Pashtun are an ethnic group that tend to live in the East and South of Afghanistan, as well as in the west of Pakistan. Pashtun have historically tended to be warlike, and most of the actual fighting currently is in Pashtun areas. But I digress.
This particular bit of elegant and efficiently inefficient mechanism is a water lift. It is constructed of a lot of repurposed parts, to include a car axle, some salvaged pipe, a few agricultural discs to power the wheel, and regular food cans to catch the water and dump it into the box, which has a flanged hole that accepts a hose, or sluices the water into a stock tank or buckets that children bring.
Several people who see it who are urbanites from typical Western backgrounds mock it’s simplicity and inefficiency, claiming it delivers the water too slow, or only a little bit at a time. Fortunately for the Kuchi who are using it, they have all the time in the world, and the water lift turns continuously, as long as there is water to turn it.
An efficiency expert could recommend a well-engineered and expensive solution, but the wheel continues to turn, and dump water into the cachement, and it cost nothing to make.