Women, children and the elderly are generally responsible for the water fetching duties, carrying the water in containers that rest on their heads. In an effort to alleviate the devastating spinal, neck and back injuries caused by this traditional method of water collection, two engineers teamed up to design a novel water roller, called the Hippo Water Roller.

Grant Gibbs, the founder of Imvubu Projects, distributes the Hippo Water Roller. Gibbs says the barrel-shaped roller transports ninety litres of water, which is equal to an effective weight of ten kilograms on level ground.

Consisting of a polyethylene UV stabilised drum, a large screw on cap and a clip-on steel handle, it can withstand typical rural conditions where paths are uneven and littered with rocks and sometimes broken bottles.

The roller can be pushed or pulled and the drum opening is large enough to allow for easy filling and cleaning of the inside surface. Approximately five times the normal amount of water can now be collected in less time with far less effort.

The Hippo Water Roller received the South African Bureau of Standards ‘Design for Development Award (1997) and UNICEF has endorsed the product.

Gibbs is committed to accessing corporate, private and government sponsorships for communities in urgent need of improved access to water.

At US$45 (excluding project costs) the Hippo Water Rollers are relatively expensive and villages rely on the sponsorship to provide funding and to ensure availability.

Gibbs says community based projects are initiated where the rollers are handed over to communities which have inadequate access to water throughout southern Africa. These communities contribute financially as they are able, and are also responsible for the sustainability of the project.

Imvubu Projects conducted landmine tests near Pretoria in South Africa using Hippo Water Rollers to test the impact of a landmine explosion if triggered. The shock wave, and incredible heat from the blast, was absorbed by the water in the roller.

For more information, or to support the Hippo Water Roller project, visit website www.hipporoller.org

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