One of the harshest realities faced by many African communities is the lack of convenient access to clean, safe water. Many women and children walk more than a kilometre every day to fetch water; a physically demanding activity that has negative effects on physical health. The educational development of young children, who are often tasked with water collection on a daily basis, is also compromised by this time-consuming responsibility which keeps them from attending school.
“Hippos” to the rescue
Not only is limited access to water a critical issue in rural areas of Mpumalanga, but this South African province also has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country. The compounded effect is families with an increased need for access to clean water and nutritious food, but a reduced number of people physically able to carry the numerous canisters and buckets of water.
&Beyond’s community development partner Africa Foundation works with communities to identify where support is needed to uplift, and empower the people living in that area. In the neighbourhoods surrounding &Beyond Ngala, the Community Development Forums identified access to water as a priority area. Together with Africa Foundation they sought to lessen the burden of carrying water from boreholes, by providing Hippo Water Rollers to the most vulnerable in the community.
Hippo Water Rollers are barrel-shaped containers that have the capacity to carry 90 litres (25 gallons) of water. Water collected from the community borehole can be placed inside the barrel, which is then pushed or pulled along the ground, using the extended handle.
The barrel is designed to withstand the rough terrain found in rural environments, and when pushed, the relative weight is about 12 kg (27 lbs) enabling even children to operate them with ease.
Thanks to the guidance of the Community Development Forum, it has been vulnerable sectors like elderly
elderly residents, people who are ill or living with disabilities, orphans and child-headed households that have benefited significantly.
To date, 3 823 Hippo Water Rollers have been distributed within Mpumalanga, and 4 764 throughout our rural communities.