Water, hygiene, and transportation are constant challenges for developing nations like India, and women often shoulder the burden of collecting water for their families. In order to make this chore less arduous, Wello, an American social venture company, has designed a device to transport water in a more efficient and hygienic way. The WaterWheel is a round 50-liter container that enables people to roll water from water sources rather than carry it on their heads. Thanks to this new invention, three to five times more water can be transported compared to traditional methods.

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In 2011, the Wello team traveled to India with the goal of finding a way to improve the experience of collecting, storing and using water. The team interviewed over 1,500 community members, practitioners and experts and found that the problems that stem from the traditional methods of water transportation profoundly impact families and communities in a negative way. For many isolated areas, family members (mainly women) are forced to trek up to five miles to the nearest water source with large, heavy plastic containers balanced on their heads. It’s estimated that Indian women spend up to 25 percent of their time each day collecting water. This time spent often keeps children out of school and cuts out the valuable time that could otherwise be spent generating income from other means.

“Fewer trips to collect water means women and children can spend more time on productive educational and economic activities,” according to Wello. “The daily burden of water collection undermines productivity, limits educational opportunities and traps households in poverty. Wello focuses on reducing the negative social, economic and health consequences of carrying heavy loads of water over long distances.”

After their time in India meeting with numerous people in the villages of Rajasthan, the Wello team won a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize to develop the WaterWheel. The resulting product is a high-quality, human-safe plastic wheel that offers a convenient, hygienic and durable way to transport water. Currently, the WaterWheel is being manufactured in Ahmedabad city in Gujarat and may also be used to provide water for herds of animals and irrigation purposes. “Our goal is to distribute on a large scale, on small margins to 10,000-20,000 customers a year,” says Cynthia Koenig, founder and chief executive of Wello.

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Via The Guardian