Water hygiene and transportation are constant challenges for developing nations like India, and women often shoulder the burden of collecting water for their families. In order to make this chore less arduous, Wello, an American social venture company, has designed a device to transport water in a more efficient and hygienic way.
The WaterWheel is around 50-liter container that enables people to roll water from water sources rather than carry it on their heads. Thanks to this new invention, three to five times more water can be transported compared to traditional methods.
Girls and women carrying plastic jerry cans of water on their heads is a common sight in rural areas of poor countries. The WaterWheel eases that burden by storing water in a round 50-litre container that doubles as a wheel.
In 2011, the Wello team travelled to India with the goal of finding a way to improve the experience of collecting, storing and using water. The team interviewed over 1,500 community members, practitioners and experts and found that the problems that stem from the traditional methods of water transportation profoundly impact families and communities in a negative way.
For many isolated areas, family members (mainly women) are forced to trek up to five miles to the nearest water source with large, heavy plastic containers balanced on their heads. It’s estimated that Indian women spend up to 25 percent of their time each day collecting water. This time spent often keeps children out of school and cuts out the valuable time that could otherwise be spent generating income from other means.
Fewer trips to collect water means women and children can spend more time on productive educational and economic activities, The daily burden of water collection undermines productivity, limits educational opportunities and traps households in poverty. Wello focuses on reducing the negative social, economic and health consequences of carrying heavy loads of water over long distances.
After their time in India meeting with numerous people in the villages of Rajasthan, the Wello team won a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize to develop the WaterWheel. The resulting product is a high-quality, human-safe plastic wheel that offers a convenient, hygienic and durable way to transport water. Currently, the WaterWheel is being manufactured in Ahmedabad city in Gujarat and may also be used to provide water for herds of animals and irrigation purposes. Our goal is to distribute on a large scale, on small margins to 10,000-20,000 customers a year.
The designers played around with different sizes – 10-20 litres – before agreeing on 50 litres. While the WaterWheel was created with women in mind, as they tend to collect water
The device, to be constructed Ahmedabad city in Gujarat, also saves time, at least an hour in many cases. It is also being used for irrigation and to bring water to animals.
Wello plans to sell the WaterWheel in the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat states, as well as explore opportunities for water purification.
It is an age-old image of rural India: a woman trudging a long distance with a huge pot of water precariously balanced on her head. And despite an ambitious nationwide effort to provide piped water to every rural household, it remains a common sight in most Indian villages.
After tests in India, Mexico and Haiti, she is confident that the WaterWheel can be an all-terrain alternative to water pots, taking a huge, historic and debilitating load off impoverished Indian women.