People living in poverty very often live far away from the nearest well or other source of water. When this is the case, the gathering and transporting of water becomes a significant physical task. If you’ve ever hoisted around a 40-pound suitcase — the kind without wheels — around an airport or hotel before, just imagine trying to carry the same weight of sloshing water, often balanced on your head in a jar, for miles and miles over rough terrain. This life-giving, but difficult work is done by millions of girls and women around the world who collectively spend over 200 million hours each day fetching water. The task is not only difficult, but dangerous as well, since it regularly involves traveling isolated, hazardous routes over long distances to water sources located miles from their homes.
When Cynthia Koenig, a young social entrepreneur from New York, learned about the challenges people in poor communities face just to transport water to where they live, she decided to do something about it. She created the WaterWheel, a device that allows people to easily roll a 50 liter container of water instead of having to carry a much smaller 19 liter jug on their heads. Not only does it provide access to greater quantities of water, it also saves women dozens of hours per week in water transport time, and reduces the physical strain that comes from balancing 40 pounds of water on top of their heads each day.
Koenig’s invention has been noticed by Wello, a social enterprise company that has been testing out the WaterWheel in rural communities in India.
Additional examples of low-cost and ecologically-friendly water access success stories can be found in the Ecological Handprints eBook.