Gallery: Project H Design Fundraiser- Sponsor a Hippo Roller!


H is for Humanity, Habitats, Health, Habitats, and HIPPO! Project H, an organization that promotes, inspires, and delivers humanitarian product design, is funding 50 Hippo Rollers for a series of 17 villages in Kgautswane in Northeastern South Africa. Hippo Rollers, if you haven’t seen them before, they are amazing barrel devices that allow the millions whose livelihoods depend on the daily fetching of water to more safely and efficiently access and transport water. The roller holds 3-4 days worth of water for a family of 7, about 5 times the amount of water that can be moved using traditional methods, which frees up time for more productive economic and educational activities. It’s an amazing product and an amazing story of good design enabling communities.

For $100 you can sponsor the manufacturing and delivery of one roller in your name, which will be personally delivered to a family in Kgautswane this April by Project H Design. If you believe in the power of good design, here’s your chance to show it! Check out the Hippometer to see how many rollers have been funded to date.

SPONSOR A HIPPO ROLLER NOW via Project H Design >>>>>

The rollers will be delivered to the community this April, as a gesture of support and a catalyst for more collaboration on larger water systems projects within Kgautswane. Here are the details:

What Project H is funding: 50 Hippo Rollers for a group of 17 villages in the Kgautswane community of Northeast South Africa- total population 120,000

Deadline: April 13, 2008

Total amount needed: $5000 (50 rollers, $100 each for production and delivery)

Levels of Donation:
$100- one roller for one household
$500- five rollers for a small micro-community
$1000- ten rollers for a village

Founded by Emily Pilloton (Inhabitat’s Managing Editor), Project H Design is a charitable organization that supports, inspires, and delivers life-improving humanitarian product design solutions to global communities in need. Project H champions industrial design as a tool to address social issues, a vehicle for global life improvement, and a catalyst for individual and community empowerment.

+ Project H Design


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  1. srenner September 4, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I would like to know how the rollers are performing in the field. I work in Haiti and have partners who are interested in bringing this item to people here. Is there any data?
    Thank you.

  2. Loran June 1, 2011 at 1:23 am

    At last! Someone who understands! Thanks for poistng!

  3. thepeacemaker February 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Excellent idea and great work.

    The barrel on seems to have a few more advantages. Its a single cylindrical piece with a hollow section in the middle and can be pulled with a rope. Plus it costs less than $50 USD.

    Chek out:

  4. Dan Shaw May 3, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    A similar rolling water drum won the Rolex award
    it\’s pulled with a rope.
    … I need help to help Shorko Etiopia medical clinic & school:
    thank you,

  5. NickB. February 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    First off I applaud the effort and design, but I would highly recommend that you include the information on manufacturing costs and shipping in your efforts to garner donations. Like many others who have commented my first reaction to the $100/barrel was suspicion. Maybe it could be presented both as a charitable opportunity for the recipients of the barrel and for the people manufacturing it. Maybe the reference to “thoughtful” manufacturing includes buying carbon credits.

    Whatever it is, I’d like to hear about it and I’m sure other potential donors would as well. $100 seems outrageous for a plastic barrel.

    Best Regards,

  6. Emily Pilloton February 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Also please note that the quoted WIPO article is from 2005, and pertains to a PREVIOUS PROTOTYPE, and does not include delivery or packing costs. So while factually at the time the article may have been accurate, it is not the whole story as it relates to this Project H initiative and the current design/prototype of the Hippo Roller.

  7. Emily Pilloton February 24, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m the Founder of Project H, Emily Pilloton. I really appreciate your support and thoughts on this project. To clear up the numbers, the Hippo Rollers cost $90 USD to produce in South Africa, and $10 to transport. Project H is not taking any money or administrative fees for running this campaign. The rollers are made from a high quality durable plastic (a hygienic UV stabilized Polyethylene) and consist of a drum, screw cap, and clip on handle. While it’s easy to imagine it being cheaply manufactured in the US, the process is actually much more involved (and thoughtful) in its design and production than one might think. I’m thrilled to be working with Grant and Cynthia of Hippo Roller and can assure you that all donors’ money are going straight to the production and delivery of the rollers.

    Thanks for all your support!


    Emily Pilloton
    Founder, Project H Design

  8. Timmy February 24, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Even if retail is 35 bucks, they probably have to pay for shipping and fees regarding project H itself. You are also paying the the DVD and pics that come along with it. I sent in 100 bucks because it seems like a noble cause!

  9. Boil Before Drinking February 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Excellent idea! I had heard about the Hippo Roller before, and am happy to see this idea put to further use,

  10. Lipa Roth February 21, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Here’s an article from the Sep-Oct 2005 issue of WIPO Magazine published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.
    Note that the manufacturer pegs the cost of a HIPPO ROLLER at $35

    (WIPO article -page 27)
    ◗ The Hippo Roller, produced by Imvubu Projects in South Africa, was designed to alleviate the burden on the women and children in rural communities, who spend much of their days walking to fetch water. A simple, rolling container, it enables the user to transport 90 liters of water at a time. Some 10,000 Hippo Rollers have been distributed so far. But Imvubu is seeking more business and nongovernmental sponsors, as those most in need cannot afford the cost of US$35 per roller.

  11. Annie February 20, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Just saw something called a “PlayPump” on another list. Seems a far superior idea to this & not made of plastic: do we really need more plastic that breaks, but doesn’t break down, leeches phthalates into drinking water and is, well, jyet another petroleum product? Haven’t checked it out fully, but putting “PlayPump” into your search engine should get you to its site, for those who are curious.

  12. Kevin February 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    If this could be modified for dual use in developed countries, this would bring the price right down with economies of scale. For example, one could design a spout that attaches on the mouth, and it could be used as a cooler for sports activities, or just as a general use cooler.

    Better yet, with such modifications and use in developed countries, after a few years the Roller could be donated to developing countries FOR FREE. In this way, it would be designed to become the trash of rich countries and collected and recycled in poor countries FOR FREE.

  13. rick bradner February 20, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I think it’s a laudable idea, but I must agree with Metis, $100/unit seems very expensive.

    I can buy a high quality high impact plastic wheelbarrow in Vancouver for $60. This includes a hefty profit margin by both the Mfg. and the retailer. Actual cost must be under $20, probably less

    Has antone checked to verify what percentage this “non-profit” takes for administration?

  14. William February 20, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Its a nice idea, but I agree with Metis $100 should buy 2 of them not the one. I’d hope it has the durability to survive off road, cant help thinking it would have a limited lifespan in rough terrain….

  15. Fred Thompson February 20, 2008 at 3:47 am

    Great design, however it does needs a new name and some branding assistance.

  16. Gregory Mudmen February 20, 2008 at 2:02 am

    I got mine in the mail a few weeks ago and been rolling it around for a long time. Filled with water. Great item. Would roll it to my grave. Gotta buy a kid.

  17. oakling February 19, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I am so confused. Does it roll hippos out of their way? Is it just big like a hippo?

  18. Brandon February 19, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    How about including a water purificatoin device inside the roller so that as you roll the hippo back to your village your water is filtered.

  19. metis February 19, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    how in the names of the blazing monkey gods does a plastic barrel with a screw on lid and a piece of conduit cost 100$, even if i’m shipping it to the south pole?

    seriously, a food grade plastic drum can be had for 40$ retail and the conduit is 10$. buy in bulk (say 20 units) and it’s cheaper. heck, buy in container loads and it’s much cheaper. shipping goes down too.

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