Hippo Rollers help bring water home

Think hippos and the first thing that comes to mind is water – and plenty of it. But it’s also a resource that many have to go to the ends of the world to find.

Hippo Roller 1Women carrying water back home on their heads in traditional containersThe Hippo Water Roller Project is an initiative that looks to provide a much needed and easier method of water transportation to the world’s most impoverished communities, many of whom lack access to running water in or around their homes.

There are more than 1 billion people around the world who do not have access to running water and are forced to travel long distances in order to access what is the most basic of human needs. Woman and children are usually the ones who have the responsibility to walk to their nearest river or borehole to fetch water and then carry containers of water, weighing about 20kg on average, back home over unfriendly terrain.

This project aims to provide people in rural and informal settlements with Hippo Water Rollers, which are water containers that are capable of containing and moving 90 litres of water with less effort than the conventional 20 litre water containers that are largely in use.


Designed in 1991 by South Africans Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, and then later modified by Grant Gibbs of Imvubu Projects, the roller is an innovative system made up of a large cylindrical container made of tough UV-stabilised polyethylene. The container can be attached to a rigid steel handle which effectively turns the drum into a large wheel that can either be pushed or pulled along the ground with relative ease when laid on its side.

This reduces the strain and likelihood of them sustaining neck and spinal injuries, given that the people collecting water don’t have to carry the container on their heads.

Apart from the ease of movement, the Hippo Water Roller also has a large lid that creates a water tight seal that allows for easy filling and hygienic storage, as well as access to the inside of the container for cleaning.


Hippo Roller 2Woman pushing Hippo Water Roller with ease in south Sudan (Images by: Hippo Water Roller Project)Manufactured in South Africa by Imvubu Projects, approximately 44 000 Hippo Water Rollers have been distributed worldwide through donations and sponsorships by non-government organisations (NGOs) and businesses, and have benefitted more than 300 000 people.

There are still many people struggling to get the water they need on a daily basis and this technology has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of time and energy that these people use every day.

Imvuba Projects wish to take this initiative further and appeal to the public and organisations to help pursue their goal of reaching as many people in need as possible.

Anybody interested in partnering with Imvuba Projects or learning more about who they are and what they do can log onto their website (http://www.hipporoller.org) or contact them via e-mail, telephonically or through post.

Their contact details are:

The Hippo Water Roller Project
P.O. Box 170
South Africa

Email: admin@hipporoller.org

Fax: 086 689 9961