Many of us who have access to clean water tend to take it for granted. Be it for drinking, cooking, or bathing. All we have to do is turn the faucet and we have water. Unfortunately, for a large number of people in the developing and under-developed world, access to clean water is a painful chore.

Women carrying water on their head. Image Source: TheAge.com website

People walk around 5 miles or more daily to fetch water. It is not uncommon to walk twice the distance to collect water. Traditional method of carrying water means to carry a 5 gallon water bucket on the head. This can cause severe pain and damage to the spine. During summer, wells dry up, and water is collected from ditches and streams that are usually shared with animals. As a result, water-borne diseases such as dysentery and diarrhea are prevalent. Apart from being detrimental to the health of individuals, this activity undermines productivity too.

The solution is the ‘Hippo Water Roller’ manufactured by Hippo Water International.

Hippo Water Roller. Image Source: Crisdelrosario.wordpress.com


The Hippo Water Roller’s innovative design allows water to be placed inside its “wheel,” transforming 200 pounds (90 kg) of water to an effective weight of just 22 pounds (10 kg). This means that almost anyone can easily manage a full roller over most types of terrain. A sturdy steel clip on handle makes the Hippo Roller easy to maneuver and even children and the elderly are able to handle it. It’s a simple but effective invention and the barrel basically becomes the wheel with a handle attached to it.

‘Hippo Water Roller’ is resourceful.

It is manufactured from a durable plastic (polyethylene) and has a large screw cap, allowing users to thoroughly clean the inside. This is a large improvement on the toxic, re-purposed gasoline and paint containers that are typically used to collect water.

Hippo Water Rollers make it possible for families to collect sufficient water in one trip. A single Hippo Roller carries enough water to meet the basic needs of 5 people per day. Few trips means women and children can spend more time on productive educational and economic activities.

A Hippo Food Security System is also in place, designed to improve food production Hippo Water Rollers make it possible for owners to grow their own vegetables using a technique known as ‘drip irrigation.’ Hippo Water Roller owners receive training on water purification, good hygiene strategies and drip irrigation, in addition to information on growing food gardens.

Poor communities are worst affected by lack of access to water. Currently, ‘Hippo Water Rollers’ are donated free of charge to people in Africa who need them most. This is accomplished by the donations of various individuals and communities. Being able to transport more water with relatively less effort and in less time means growing crops is a viable source of food and income.

Back home in India, I used to wonder how people carried buckets of water on their head. It was a balancing act to say the least. But, other than the fleeting thought of ‘hopefully they will have access to clean water soon’ I did not explore the possibility of an easier way to transport water. I admit to shallow thinking on my part!