Founded in 1991, the Hippo Water Roller was initially called the ‘Aqua Roller’. The name was later changed to ‘Hippo Water Roller’ to present it to be more African which is appropriate considering the shape, thick skin and association with water.
The Hippo Water Roller Project was established in 1994 by Infotech (Pty) Ltd. as part of their Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) initiative, more commonly known as Corporate Social Investment (CSI). Since 1998, the project has been run by Imvubu Projects cc, as a social enterprise.
Mission and Vision
According to the United Nations (UN), there are more than one billion people without adequate access to water. The Hippo Water Roller Project’s vision is to reduce this need by just one percentile, assuming one Hippo Roller per household with a typical average of seven members and a distribution of 12 000 Hippo Rollers per month for 10 years.
Impact on Society
Millions of South Africans and many millions more in other developing countries do not enjoy the luxury of piped water in their homes. Women and children are forced to walk long distances to fetch and carry heavy buckets of water all the way back to their homes. This is a laborious and time consuming task carried out every day of their lives.
The Hippo Water Roller, a barrel-shaped container designed to roll 90 litres of water at one time along the ground, was purposely designed to alleviate the suffering caused by a lack of access to water. Its innovative design allows water to be placed inside the ‘wheel’, resulting in an effective weight of just 10 kilograms on level ground. Approximately five times the normal amount of water can be collected in much less time and with far less effort, transforming water collection from a daily chore to a task performed only a few times per week.
Approximately 1.1 billion people lack easy access to clean, safe drinking water. The task of collecting water often is endured by women and children who walk up to 15kms (nine miles) each day to retrieve water for their families using the most common method of transporting water, carrying heavy 20 litre (five gallon) buckets on their heads. This is time and energy consuming and contributes to serious health and musculoskeletal problems in the long run.
Approximately 42 000 Hippo Water Rollers have been distributed to date, positively impacting on at least 300 000 people. The consequence of easier access to water is far reaching, and results in improvements to health, sanitation, better access to education and economic productivity, a key component in poverty alleviation efforts. Hippo Water Rollers also offer protection from land mines when pushed rather than pulled, as tests have proven their ability to absorb the impact and heat generated by such a blast.
Main Activities and Services
People who need the Hippo roller most generally cannot afford it, the Hippo Water Roller Project procures sponsorships and donor funding, therefore facilitating the distribution of the product to various water-stressed communities around Southern Africa, and the world. Working in partnership with sponsors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community leadership forums and beneficiaries are identified. These are mainly women, child-headed homes and the elderly. Once funds have been secured, the Hippo Rollers are manufactured and the handover is planned. Community leaders will introduce the project to the members and a mandate to proceed will be secured. Training in the use and care of the Hippo Roller takes place where a ceremonial function consisting of community members and leaders express appreciation to the sponsors through speeches and often with song and dance.
Challenges and Opportunities
The main challenge the Hippo Water Roller Project encounters is that the people who need Hippo Rollers the most, cannot afford them, making it unfeasible to retail them. 95 percent of all Hippo Rollers are donor funded, and to make this more attractive to potential donors / sponsors, the organisation offers an option to brand the Hippo Rollers with a logo, and matching drum colour. In South Africa companies wanting to gain broad based black economic empowerment (BBB-EE) points need to spend a percentage of the annual revenue on CSI projects, and the Hippo Water Roller Project is an ideal initiative to support, as beneficiaries have an immediate benefit upon receiving their Hippo Rollers, and corporate companies have the option to link their branding / marketing campaigns with their CSI initiatives.
The Hippo Water Roller Project has also identified an opportunity to add a commercial value to the Hippo Roller, by adding a few optional extras, such as the Irrigation Cap and Mobile Spaza Unit. Both options work with the standard Hippo Roller, and support small-scale farmers and vendors, while also addressing the household water need in the evenings.
Lastly, the organisation is currently running a campaign which encourages a call to action by corporate companies, NGOs and individuals alike, namely:
67.67 Hippo Water Roller Challenge - in support of Mandela Day 2013.
Future Campaigns: Women’s Day (Pink Hippo Rollers) / Arbour Day (Irrigation Cap Promotion).
To view Hippo Water Roller Project in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.