WaterWheel rolls out solution to ease heavy load

Jan 08, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) —For those with running water in their homes, water is light, rolls right through the fingers, easily pours out of the faucet, and gives us hygiene and hydration in minutes so that we go on about our day. For families without such access, water is a different story. Water is heavy. Water collection dominates the time women and their school-age daughters have to spare on any day. They have the role of water-bearers and they walk long distances, hours, back and forth, to rivers and streams, with pails and jugs on their heads. The water they get will be doled out carefully for drinking, cooking and washing that day.

From economists to health experts to educators, there is no argument that the daily burden of getting is a drain on human productivity, limiting the time women and school-age children could have for other opportunities to work and attend classes. One attempt to resolve this very basic issue has been the WaterWheel, a device from a U.S.-based group called Wello, which describes itself as a social venture.

Wello has reinvented the wheel, in that they have used the wheel to rethink water collection in parts of the world such as India and Africa. Fundamentally, the wheel answers the question, what would be the benefit if you rolled water back to your village home instead of carrying the water on your head?

Wello in 2011 worked in close collaboration with village residents in Rajasthan, India, on the concept and Wello later on won a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize to develop the WaterWheel, which was announced by Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the government of Canada, in November.

According to the prize project description: "The WaterWheel can be used to ferry from a community tap to the home, used to collect rainwater during the wet season, to collect water from an open source during the dry season, or used to travel longer distances to reach a safe water sources when other options are unavailable."

The designers considered different sizes before deciding on a 50 liters. The result is a plastic wheel that serves as a 50-liter container that enables people to roll ample collections from water sources at once rather than carrying multiple jugs on their heads—between three and five times the amount of water collected by traditional methods—in short, far more water and in less time.

The WaterWheel's form was inspired by the shape of the traditional matka (pot). According to the Wello blog, they manufactured their first production run of WaterWheels in Ahmedabad, Gujurat in 2012. The device can also find use in irrigation and tending herds of animals.

Wello also had to devise a sustainable business model. According to the project description for the Canada prize, the Wello team said, "We designed our business model around extreme affordability. While similar products retail in the $75 to $100+ range, the WaterWheel will retail for $25-$30, making it accessible to the people who need it the most."

Wello said they had partnerships "with organizations throughout the clean water value chain, local governments businesses and NGOs, that will enable Wello to build on the progress made and leverage local knowledge.
'
A report in The Guardian said that Wello plans to sell the WaterWheel in the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat states, as well as explore opportunities for water purification.

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User comments : 39

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krundoloss
2.1 / 5 (16) Jan 08, 2014
I have to say that it is their fault they work so hard to transport water. They have had thousands of years, just like more developed countries, to come up with a solution to water transportation. They could live near the water, or create a *gasp* water distribution system. I know for a fact that I would not carry water on my head every day of my life. Its just a prime example of traditionalism and conformity holding a people back from innovation for a long time. I carry the water on my head as my mother did, and her mother as well. Well aren't you a proud, non innovative person? Seek to improve your life, and it shall be so. I think that these people do not deserve our time and attention, as they are incapable of helping themselves.
cantdrive85
4.2 / 5 (6) Jan 08, 2014
Wow, stupidity rears it's ugly head once again!
eric_in_chicago
3.3 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2014
Rears it's head? That comes out of a head?!?

Try, shows it's ass!!!
Returners
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2014
I know for a fact that I would not carry water on my head every day of my life. Its just a prime example of traditionalism and conformity holding a people back from innovation for a long time.


If you were a woman, and you had been born over there, you'd be uneducated and wouldn't know the difference. You'd be doing the same thing they do, most likely.

There is also more to infrastructure than simply having a good idea or knowing how. The U.S. government and state and local governments developed our infrastructure either directly or through contractors, with government funding because the projects are too big for any one group or corporation to fund.

What does this mean for small communities on the other side of the world, in locations where drilling private wells is also not practical (takes several hundred dollars which is a large chunk of their annual income)?

It means they simply don't have the money to run PVC pipe to everyone's house.
Returners
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2014
It's a catch 22.

Until they increase productivity, they won't have the needed funds. However, if they don't get such a system, they will always have this daily drain on the very productivity they need to get out of the situation.

How productive do you think the U.S. would be if women still did only "stay at home" traditional duties plus traditional medical duties, and we didn't have water distribution (took generations to get teh system we have, plus we have about a thousand times as much fresh water per person as them,) and if the women were uneducated.

We wouldn't get anything done. There'd be a shortage of secretaries, cashiers, and more recently even highly skilled, engineering and design fields. We'd looki a lot like them.

Realize, the U.S. infrastructure was strong even before development, due to all of the network of rivers and natural ports this continent has in close proximity to grasslands converted to farms, and forests for lumber. It was a gold mine from the start.
goracle
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2014
I have to say that it is their fault they work so hard to transport water. They have had thousands of years, just like more developed countries, to come up with a solution to water transportation. They could live near the water, or create a *gasp* water distribution system. I know for a fact that I would not carry water on my head every day of my life. Its just a prime example of traditionalism and conformity holding a people back from innovation for a long time. I carry the water on my head as my mother did, and her mother as well. Well aren't you a proud, non innovative person? Seek to improve your life, and it shall be so. I think that these people do not deserve our time and attention, as they are incapable of helping themselves.
If you are being sarcastic, you don't be surprised if it is misinterpreted. If not, you are being an @$$.
Returners
3 / 5 (7) Jan 08, 2014
So your belief that the U.S. developed so quickly because we are allegedly so "superior" to these other groups is flawed in so many respects. We have fewer catastrophic droughts due to the insane amount of fresh water available on land. If you take a BIT of ignorance leading up to the Dust Bowl into consideration, then even that would not have happened had the farmers known better and used better practices.

So our land and our continent literally produces more fresh water and more "all natural" transport lanes which powered the wealth of the U.S. for it's first 120 to 150 years, even without modern engines and transport, and continues to be insanely vital to this day.

If we did not have the Mississippi and it's tributaries, then before steam engines and early trains you'd need to have horse and wagon to transport everything a few hundred pounds at a time. You'd never get anything done. You'd look a lot like "THOSE" people.

The rivers made the U.S. wealthy more than anything else.
goracle
4 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2014
Under the British, there was an attempt to replace the huge communal wells with canals, do to health concerns. It backfired, with the canals causing more disease than the wells.

Giant well: http://twistedsif...d-india/
Zephir_fan
Jan 08, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
goracle
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2014
Returners wrote: If we did not have the Mississippi and it's tributaries, then before steam engines and early trains you'd need to have horse and wagon to transport everything a few hundred pounds at a time. You'd never get anything done. You'd look a lot like "THOSE" people.
--
The rivers and lakes were most helpful, but even without a beast of burden, some pre-Columbian societies were able to move a lot of material and build large structures, using a combination of water transport and human labor. Massive 150 ft mounds and such come to mind. Further south, water transport helped create some impressive civilizations despite the lack of a beast of burden. North American history was profoundly influenced by its rivers, especially through the fur trade routes and immigration pathways.
goracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2014
"a device from a U.S.-based group called Wello, which describes itself as a social venture"
"Wello later on won a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize to develop the WaterWheel, which was announced by Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the government of Canada, in November."

Why did a US-based group need to get funding from Canada?
Why would Canada, and it's taxpayers, be indirectly funding a US-based social venture?
Why would the prize jury not award a prize funded by Canadians to a Canadian project, of which there probably were many worthy efforts?
krundoloss
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 08, 2014
Ok, ok. I have some sympathy for developing nations. It is nice that they can transport water more easily. But who are we to interfere with tradition? Won't their neck muscles weaken?
JRi
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2014
Hmm.. What's wrong with simple old carts? The whole village could put their water filled pots on them and carry the water that way. They could be used for many other things too, unlike Waterwheel.
Returners
1.5 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2014
Hmm.. What's wrong with simple old carts? The whole village could put their water filled pots on them and carry the water that way. They could be used for many other things too, unlike Waterwheel.


Water wheel could probably be used for other things too. I could see putting something like dry rice in them, which they could buy a whole tub of it, and wheel it away. People in these countries usually eat a lot more rice than westerners because it tends to be cheaper than the things we eat.

I don't know, maybe they live far enough away that they need something convenient, but not far enough away to justify something bigger, which would need a horse to pull. Plus if you put those clay pots in a wagon or other cart they might jostle around and break.

I don't know, hate to be snide, which I'm not being, but I'm just glad I wasn't born in that area. That would suck to live like that even as the rest of the world has all the tech we have.
Bob_Wallace
3.5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2014
This device makes a lot of sense to me.

It lets someone take the family water tank to the well/stream and refill it in one trip. The time saved by not having to make multiple trips will be significant for many.

And get micro-solar systems to these people. Just a little technology can make a huge difference in lifestyle.
goracle
3 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2014

I don't know, hate to be snide, which I'm not being, but I'm just glad I wasn't born in that area. That would suck to live like that even as the rest of the world has all the tech we have.

It's good that you appreciate your advantages. Too many have no clue how privileged and dependent they are, or how much of the world lives.
VENDItardE
2 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2014
wow, they typical AGWites are idiots on other topics also........not surprising
goracle
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2014
wow, they typical AGWites are idiots on other topics also........not surprising

Wow, you are back with typos and little more than anal vapors...... not surprising.
marko
not rated yet Jan 09, 2014
Its good to see some Canadians doing the right thing, unlike the others who have been exporting raw asbestos for making 'poor-mans' corrugated roofing, now covering half of India. At least they won't die of thirst.

rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
Nice idea for the water wheel though but I do agree it has limited usefulness in that it only transports certain items.

A wheelbarrow with a fitted lid makes way more sense to me. Hard to understand why this problem has not been solved centuries ago.

If people abandoned their religious beliefs and practices they would have plenty of time and resources for improving their existence.
Bob_Wallace
4.3 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2014
A wheelbarrow puts the load higher making it a bit difficult to balance. This is a fairly large container of water. 50 liters, 110 pounds, 50 kg.

Moving a wheelbarrow over uneven ground with a 90 pound bag of cement isn't too easy.

And you have to be careful about setting down a loaded wheelbarrow. It's easy for one leg to sink in and tip it over.

kochevnik
2 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2014
How productive do you think the U.S. would be if women still did only "stay at home" traditional duties plus traditional medical duties, and we didn't have water distribution (took generations to get teh system we have, plus we have about a thousand times as much fresh water per person as them,) and if the women were uneducated.
Actually the USA grew the fastest during that period. Rockefellers urged the introduction of women into labor to dilute the value of workers. Now men work more than one job yet the family unit is much more poor than their grandfathers, who could buy a house with a two years of labor
rockwolf1000
4 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
A wheelbarrow puts the load higher making it a bit difficult to balance. This is a fairly large container of water. 50 liters, 110 pounds, 50 kg.

Moving a wheelbarrow over uneven ground with a 90 pound bag of cement isn't too easy.

And you have to be careful about setting down a loaded wheelbarrow. It's easy for one leg to sink in and tip it over.


I get it. I didn't mean use a Home depot wheel barrow. I meant something like a wheelbarrow that can transport water or anything else you can think of. Use the lid to retain the water, remove the lid to transport everything else. It's called multipurpose. Which makes more sense than having this single purpose contraption.
It looks as though this unit would roll all the way down a hill if let go and would still be problematic on rough ground and even worse in mud. Thin and large diameter wheels are the way to go.
rockwolf1000
4 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
@ BOB. Many people use wheel barrows for much heavier items than 110 lbs everyday without issue on rough and uneven ground. Just ask any construction worker. And they are way less likely to roll away from you or roll back down over you, like this device most certainly would.
Bob_Wallace
not rated yet Jan 09, 2014
I've got a bit of experience using a wheelbarrow moving heavy stuff. I've moved many tons of large rocks and hauled well over 100 pounds at a time. I've also moved ~10 gallons of water at a time in 5 gallon buckets. I'm speaking as a knowledgeable wheelbarrow driver.

I've also spent a lot of time in places where women and young girls spend hours each day carrying water for the family. My months in those places add up to a couple, three years.

This thing makes sense. If it's affordable.

As for using it as a wheelbarrow, remember, this is the family water tank. You're not going to wheel the tank half full of water out to the field to bring back a load of potatoes/whatever.

Crops often find a way to get hauled. But the horse cart/"iron buffalo" doesn't get used for hauling the daily water. And crops don't get hauled every day, day in and day out.

The downside is that many of these people can't afford $25, especially for something for women.
barakn
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2014
Societies that use wells are rapidly draining aquifers dry while this technology is self-limiting. These people will be around long after the well-users have dried up and blown away. And thanks for being so overtly racist, Krundoloss, sometimes people of your ilk are a lot more subtle and harder to detect.
Bob_Wallace
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
. And they (wheelbarrows) are way less likely to roll away from you or roll back down over you, like this device most certainly would.


Runaway on a slope is easily controlled by turning across the slope. And the rolling tank won't flip on its side like a wheelbarrow.

A small hunk of wood would make an excellent parking brake.

Ever use a lawn roller - the steel tanks that use water for ballast? Much more controllable than a wheelbarrow.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 10, 2014
Actually, Bob - It IS a lawn roller. I use a polyvinyl one. Works real good behind my lawn tractor in the spring. Nice and flat lawn for the season afterwards.
grant_gibbs
5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
The WaterWheel is a smaller copy of the original South African invention: the 90L HIPPO WATER ROLLER.

We've already distributed 44,000+ of these rollers benefiting 300,000+ people in 21 African countries. http://hipporolle...involved

- The Hippo roller carries 90 litres (24 gallons) of water inside a rolling wheel.
- A Hippo roller filled with 90 L water effectively weighs only 10 kilograms (22 pounds) on level ground. Product info: http://hipporolle...chnology

These water rollers / wheels improve the lives of women and children!
http://hipporolle...t/impact

- It gives women and children more time to do other important tasks around the household.
- It allows more children to attend school and secure a proper education.

Other uses: http://hipporolle...her-uses

- Irrigation cap for small scale farmers and household gardens
- A transport vehicle and display facility for products to be sold in rural and informal communities
rockwolf1000
not rated yet Jan 10, 2014
. And they (wheelbarrows) are way less likely to roll away from you or roll back down over you, like this device most certainly would.


Runaway on a slope is easily controlled by turning across the slope. And the rolling tank won't flip on its side like a wheelbarrow.


But if you slip or fall this thing will roll all the way down a hill running over anyone or anything in it's path. Given it's cost and single use I doubt this will succeed unless highly subsidized. There are no easily obtainable replacement parts.

It makes far more sense to store the rain water they get than draining aquifers and hauling water anyway. Many people in India have been poisoned by naturally occurring arsenic from wells drilled by well intentioned aid workers.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 10, 2014
But if you slip or fall this thing will roll all the way down a hill

If you slip and fall with a huge waterbarrel on your head (which is the current mode of transportation) you're in a lot more trouble.

Also note that if your water source is a river (or an artificially drilled well) then going downhill with a full waterwheel is likely not an issue.
rockwolf1000
not rated yet Jan 10, 2014
The small diameter of the wheel will get stuck in any hollow on the path. If there is sticky mud this unit will grow in diameter and thus weight. The components are not being made locally thus replacement parts will be unavailable. The article states that it would be used for long distance transport so up and downhill travel is inevitable. It has only one purpose. It 's only purpose is meant to ease the woman's burden which is apparently not a high priority in this region as these people are not stupid and could have easily designed something similarly practical long ago if the desire existed.

Now if this unit was multipurpose and benefited the whole family it would be a hot item.

@ BOB get the Home Depot wheel barrow out of your head. That is not the style to which I am referring. Look at old design wheel barrows. Low, 2 wheeled, legs for brakes, multipurpose, practical. Heck you could even haul water, food, tools and carry babies at the same time.
ubavontuba
2 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2014
Didn't some poor kid in Africa, on his own initiative, build a windmill out of spare parts? Why yes ...yes he did. What's stopping these people?

http://www.wired....indmill/
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2014
This device makes a lot of sense to me.

It lets someone take the family water tank to the well/stream and refill it in one trip. The time saved by not having to make multiple trips will be significant for many.

And get micro-solar systems to these people. Just a little technology can make a huge difference in lifestyle.
And yet it never occurs to anyone to use a little red wagon to transport several jugs at a time ...or scale up to a handcart or an an oxcart to carry multiple family supplies at a time, or build a simple hand pump, or build simple cantilever shadoofs like they've used in Egypt for thousands of years... are they just antisocial?

How can people who live in such densely packed communities not think of helping both themselves, and their larger communities?

Whydening Gyre
3.3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2014
How can people who live in such densely packed communities not think of helping both themselves, and their larger communities?


Capitalists?
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2014
How can people who live in such densely packed communities not think of helping both themselves, and their larger communities?


Capitalists?
No, capitalists would offer to carry water for others for some small fee/exchange of value, and then go about building an infrastructure to do so, ever more efficiently.

Socialists would do the same, only they'd call the fee/exchange of value a tax, and impose it on everyone.

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
Lighten up, Francis...
Anda
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
Great for practical thought. It can ease the life of thousands or millions.

@krundoloss: cantdrive85 said you're stupid and that is the first time Ever he is right...
How does that feel?
Newbeak
not rated yet Jan 14, 2014
Societies that use wells are rapidly draining aquifers dry while this technology is self-limiting. These people will be around long after the well-users have dried up and blown away. And thanks for being so overtly racist, Krundoloss, sometimes people of your ilk are a lot more subtle and harder to detect.

Donate a Slingshot distiller to each village,and the people can devote the time taken to transport water to better use: http://en.wikiped...ystem%29
Lex Talonis
not rated yet Jan 27, 2014
This came out on an Australian TV show called "The Inventors" about 10 years ago....

I think it's a relaunch of an old product.