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Simple Solutions: On a Roll with the Hippo Water Roller!

By Mallory Reardon

simple solutions banner FINALA key component of Maser Consulting’s corporate culture supports individuals who use their training and skills in charitable endeavors to improve the lives and communities around them. Our Simple Solutions blog series shines the spotlight on people and organizations who share this passion for using their talents to discover easy innovations that positively impact the world.


With the summer’s first official heat wave upon the northeast, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone doesn’t have the option to cool off with a cold glass of water right from the convenience of their own homes. Yet, one of the toughest issues often facing developing countries today is the lack of access to clean water. Needed for cooking, bathing, cleaning, and drinking, residents spend hours each day just getting water to their homes to use as a basic resource. In many areas in Africa, running water is not readily available within homes, and fetching it is a time- and energy-intensive task often relegated to women and children. Residents can be forced to walk a mile or more to obtain this precious resource. They typically cart the water in 5 gallon buckets carried on their heads, which can lead to long-term neck and spinal injuries. Sometimes several trips are necessary, and the 3-9 hours spent traveling to and from access points means less time for children to gain an education or for women to pursue economic activities.

The Hippo Water Roller is a project initially designed in Africa, for Africa, and it aims to alleviate this daily struggle to access water by improving the ability to transport more water in less time. Created by two engineers, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, the simple system is composed of just three parts: a water drum, a steel handle, and a plastic bearing. The drum is made of a thick but flexible UV-stabilized polyethylene and is designed to accommodate the rough surfaces encountered in rural areas. The bearing connects the handle to the drum and allows it to turn like a wheel. Finally, the steel handle enables the water roller to be either pushed like a carriage or pulled like a wagon. All three components are durable, maintenance-free, and easily replaced.

With its 24 gallon water drum, the Hippo Water Roller enables residents to carry five times the water they can haul in their typical buckets. More water carried in a single trip means fewer trips and more time for children and women to pursue other activities. Because the drum rolls on the ground, it helps prevent  potential head and neck injuries sustained by carrying buckets. In addition, the cap used to the seal the drums provides a hygienic storage system for the water. The health and social benefits of this simple design are felt immediately within a community, and are far-reaching. Approximately 44,000 Hippo Water Rollers have already been distributed across southern Africa and 20 other developing countries, easing the burden of this daily task for thousands of households.


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