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FRONTLINE/World: Troubled Water

Airs Friday, October 15, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: In 2005, Frontline/World reported on the PlayPump (pictured), a breakthrough idea to harness the energy of children spinning a merry-go-round to pump drinking water for villages in southern Africa. After the broadcast, donors gave millions to expand the project. Now, reporter Amy Costello investigates how the promise of the PlayPump fell so short.

Frontline/World investigates one of its own stories, “The Play Pump,” which promised to use a merry-go-round and the power of children to help meet the dire need for fresh water in southern Africa. After Frontline/World first aired the story in 2005, major donors in the United States — and the U.S. government itself — launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to install the device in thousands of African schools and villages. Now, correspondent Amy Costello investigates what happened to those communities, as the promise of the PlayPump fell short and the device’s biggest American boosters began to back away from a technology they had once championed.

Also in this hour: Adam Davidson of NPR’s “Planet Money” team looks at a new idea in post-disaster relief being tried out in Haiti, and a profile of a painter who travels to the remote jungles of West Papua in search of the “clever bird.”

Video

Preview: Frontline/World: Troubled Water

Above: Frontline/World investigates one of its own stories, "The Play Pump," which promised to use a merry-go-round and the power of children to help meet the dire need for fresh water in southern Africa. After the story aired in 2005, major donors, including the U.S. government, launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to install the device in thousands of African schools and villages. Now, correspondent Amy Costello investigates what happened to those communities, as the promise of the Play Pump fell short.