Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Problem: Millions of people worldwide walk long distances to collect their daily water requirements for the day. Traditional methods of collecting water include the use of 20-liter (5-gallon) buckets, which are laboriously carried on the head. This method is time and energy consuming and the cause of many serious health problems, particularly spinal and back injuries.

Client: Community organizers in Southern Africa and other developing countries

Designers: Pettie Petzer & Johan Jonker. Imvubu Projects is responsible for improvements.

Solutions: A large UV-stabilized polyethylene drum with a screw-on lid and a steel clip-on handle carries 90 liters (20 gallons) of water. The filled drum is turned on its side and pushed like a steamroller. It is designed to withstand typical rural conditions such as uneven footpaths, rocks and broken bottles. The drum can also protect the user from landmines that may be accidentally triggered. It is also changing social roles, as males have become interested in taking up this traditionally female task. Food gardens have become more feasible. Overall, more water means a better quality of life.

Completion: 1993 but the project is ongoing. There are 25,000 rollers to date.

For more info: Hippo Water Roller


The Hippo Water Roller, designed by Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, with the handle attached and another upright with the handle detached. A variety of colors are available to suit sponsor branding requirements.
Photo courtesy of SABS Design Institute, South Africa

Posted May 10, 2007