One of the harshest realities faced by many African communities is the lack of convenient access to clean safe water. Many women and children walk more than one kilometre every day to fetch water; a physically demanding activity that has negative effects on physical health. The educational development of young children, who are often tasked with water collection on a daily basis, is also compromised by this time-consuming responsibility which keeps them from attending school.
Not only is limited access to water a critical issue in rural areas of Mpumalanga, but also the province has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country. The compounded effect is families that have an increased need for access to clean water and nutritious food, but that have a reduced number of people physically able to carry water.
Hippo Water Rollers are the innovative response, designed by South Africans for lessoning the burden of carrying water.
Hippo Water Rollers are barrel-shaped containers that have the capacity to carry 90-litres of water. Water collected from the community borehole can be placed inside the barrel, which is then pushed or pulled along the ground, using the extended handle. The barrel is designed to withstand the rough terrain found in rural environments, and with water, weighs 12kg.
Through the generosity of Africa Foundation donors over 4,500 Hippo Water Rollers have been donated. While the majority have been in Mpumalanga, a number have also assisted people in water scarce communities in KwaZulu Natal, Tanzania and on Benguerra Island, Mozambique. In all cases, the community leadership structures identify people most vulnerable, such as elderly residents, those who are ill or living with disabilities, orphans and households that are headed by children. For these households, being able to take the Hippo Water Roller to and from the borehole, just makes life a little bit easier.