Entrepreneur, Cynthia Koenig, has invented a simple, yet effective device, that helps ease the water collection process in third world countries. It’s called the WaterWheel and it allows women and children in the villages of developing nations to collect 24 gallons of water (5 times the amount possible with traditional methods) in less time, and much more easily. The design of the WaterWheel allows water to be placed inside its “wheel”, transforming 200 pounds of water, to a much more managable felt weight of 22 pounds, making it lighter and easier to transport over just about any type of terrain.
The time spent collecting water by traditional methods keeps children from being able to go to school, and prevents women from carrying out their daily domestic chores and caring for their families. In many developing nations, they must walk five miles or more a day just to get water, and this can be a dangerous process, and tolling on the body. Traditionally, women carry large, five-gallon water pots on their heads, a method that can severely damage the spine and even cause complications during childbirth. The WaterWheel allows the amount of water necessary for one family to be collected in just one trip.
When I first heard about the WaterWheel, I was concerned that perhaps the water collected would not always be clean. In many cases, women and children may spend hours gathering water for their families, only to get sick from it later. I voiced this concern online, and Koenig, herself, responded with the following:
Thanks for your comment! One of the advantages of the WaterWheel is that it offers end users the flexibility to incorporate it into their current water collection strategies. As you probably know, many people who live without easy access to safe water employ a variety of strategies to obtain clean water depending on the geographic location and time of year. So, people who are accustomed to collecting their water from open sources, then purifying it at the point of use can continue to do so. Along the same lines, safe water that is collected from taps can be hygienically transported and stored. A key part of our strategy involved working with partners across the clean water value chain to educate our consumers about the importance of clean water.