Water Innovation

Our innovation makes more water and time available for education, household tasks and food production enabling people to transport up to 5 x more water to their homes and food gardens.

Water Scarcity

1.2 billion people live in areas of water scarcity. 750 million people suffer from economic water scarcity, meaning they lack access to safe drinking water. In Africa, 40% of the poorest households do not have piped-in water, and more than half of its population lack access to improved water sources such as boreholes, wells, or taps.

  • 2.5 times the US population
  • 1 in every 10 people
  • 1/3 of all schools globally

Devistating Impact

A heart-breaking reality of economic water scarcity is that women and children are forced to carry their water using a 20 litre / five gallon bucket, balancing a bucket filled with water on top of their heads – for hours at a time – every single day. This has devastating effects in terms of health, sanitation, education and livelihoods:

  • Long-term neck & spine damage
  • Keeping kids away from school
  • No time for economic activities


#1 Hippo Roller

Improving access to has never been this easy.

The Hippo Roller was developed in 1991 in South Africa in response to the unique needs and constraints of rural women and children across Africa. The award-winning water innovation is a distinctive portable water solution that alleviates the daily struggle of rural communities by enabling them to transport water more easily and in less time than with traditional methods.


Image credit: Conservation Fusion and Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP).


The 90 litre Hippo Roller is a barrel-shaped container equipped with a steel handle with which it can be pushed or pulled. The design of this water innovation allows water to be placed ‘inside the wheel’ so that the weight is borne on the ground and distributed over a wide rolling surface.

Effective & Efficient

The effective weight of the 90 kg drum is just 10 kg when pushed or rolled on level ground, making it very user friendly for women, children and the physically weak.

  • Carries 90 litres (5 x buckets)
  • Large opening for easy cleaning
  • Hygienic storage of water

Proven Durability

Specifically designed for daily use in tough rural conditions, including uneven surfaces, gravel roads and sharp stones. It has a long lifespan of 5 – 10 years.

  • Thick drum wall – no joints
  • UV-stabilised polyethylene
  • Strong electroplated steel handle


Its maintenance-free design requires no replacement parts and promotes continuous daily use in rural and economically poor communities.

  • Screw cap wears in – not out
  • No rubber seals which perish
  • No spare parts required

Broad Social Impact

The Hippo Roller is an appropriate technology widely accepted in many countries by communities where water infrastructure is either unreliable or totally non-existent. It was designed with an understanding that women and children are often responsible for water collection in rural communities. Its integration in rural communities has had a positive cultural impact as the elderly no longer have to rely on their neighbours’ goodwill to get water and even men are proud to use it and help with water collection.


Image credit: Carlos Morgado Foundation – Fundação Carlos Morgado, Mozambique.

Immediate Benefits

The benefits enjoyed by the users are experienced immediately unlike many projects that require extensive time and money before results are seen.

  • Reduces suffering caused by heavy loads
  • Improves hygiene and health
  • Empowers women and children
  • Improves morale and personal dignity
  • More time for economic activities
  • More time for education
  • Improves irrigation of food gardens

#2 Utility Cap

Another Hippo Roller water innovation is the Utility Cap, effectively a cap-in-cap design to ensure water is hygienically dispensed and contamination is reduced. It also functions as an irrigation tool.



It allows small-holder farmers to irrigate their crops far more efficiently.
If lost, the Utility Cap can be replaced with a standard soda-bottle top.
No need to remove the handle and no need to stand the drum upright to access the water.
The inside cap enables users to draw water without opening the larger seal.
This reduces the risk of contamination and ensures the hygienic storage of water.
Filters and other point-of-use water treatment products can be added to further improve the quality of the stored water.

#3 Hippo Spaza

The functionality of this portable water innovation is enhanced by the addition of the Hippo Spaza, a specially designed steel frame that can be attached to the Hippo Roller.




This steel frame converts the Hippo Roller into a simple trolley for transporting products to preferred high traffic customer market locations, and then into a stand for product display.
The Hippo Spaza promotes economic activity and job creation within rural markets, a priority in poverty alleviation.
To encourage corporate sponsors and advertisers to get involved, we have added the option to include branding on both the Hippo roller and Hippo Spaza.
The Hippo Spaza frame is strong enough to be used as an emergency stretcher in remote areas to carry the sick and injured.

Celebrating 25 YEARS

Improving community water access –
90 litres at a time.

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