Hippo Water Roller

Approximately 10 000 communities throughout Southern Africa (15 million people) are currently without adequate access to water. Multitudes have to trek long distances to distant waterholes or wells to obtain their daily water needs. To address this problem, two south Africans, Mr. Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker invented the first rolling drum to cart water, officially named the Hippo Water roller in 1993. The association with water, round body and thick skin compares well to the famous African Hippopotamus. The Hippo Water Roller improves access to water by rolling 90 litres (24 Gallons) along the ground saving time and energy as approximately 5 times more water can be transported. The daily burden of carrying heavy 20 litre buckets on the head is significantly reduced with this ‘appropriate technology’.

“Approximately 5 times more water can be transported”

The steel handle allows the roller to be pushed or pulled over difficult and very rough terrain. The overall width of the roller with handle attached was determined by measuring the average width of a standard doorway and sized to allow it to be pulled through freely. The steel handle is fitted with special polymer end-caps to reduce friction and wear and prolong the life of the pivot cavities in the drum. The roller is rounded at the shoulders to simplify tilting when wanting to pour from the full roller. However, the roller is also very stable in the upright position when it rests on a small, flat surface. The roller has hand grips at the bottom and top to make emptying the container easier.

Although the Hippo roller was mainly designed as a water-gathering aid for underprivileged communities, several other uses have since been discovered.  Because of the Hippo water rollers’ water tightness it can act as a watertight container to keep valuables and clothes dry when going downstream in white water rapids on extreme excursions. It can also suffice as a container to be dropped with lifesaving contents from helicopters or low flying fixed-wing aircraft in flooded disaster areas. This might include food and medical supplies, warm dry clothing and blankets, and naturally, water. The polyethylene is lighter than water and will stay only partly submerged, even with fresh water in it. In fact, some rollers have been distributed pre-filled with grain or other foodstuff to villages.

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