Water-lifting Devices: Wind lass

A windlass made with a wood pole and metal handles

A windlass as used in Zimbabwe with a well cover and small opening

The principle of a Windlass
Note the bucket hanging on the handle
Also note the apron around the well and the Run of channel, Soak away. This to avoid any water around the well (Photos: S. Sutton).















A windlass is simple way of lifting water and can be made with many different materials.

Advantages compared to a rope and bucket

  • – Lifting water is easier because a   handle is used
  • – If managed well, it is more hygienic
  • – Bucket can hang upside down on Poles and be disinfected by the sun
  • – Bucket and rope are in the centre of the well so less contact with the well   top and or  wall.

Disadvantages compared to a rope and bucket

  • – More expensive
  • – More maintenance


  • Can be installed on any depth of well
  • Important to keep the bucket off the ground.
  • Make sure hands are clean before touching the bucket.
  • Cost depends on well depth and materials used
  • Cost indication for a 15 m deep well : 20 –  50 US$
  • Producers: Local welders,  masons,  well diggers
simonWater-lifting Devices: Wind lass