HippoRoller Water Carrier – Simple Efficiency With A Far-Reaching Payoff

HippoRoller Water Carrier (photo: HippoRoller.org)
HippoRoller Water Carrier (photo: HippoRoller.org)

Water is an immediate, fundamental need for human survival, but one in six people worldwide don’t have immediate access to water resources, particularly in arid regions of southern Africa. The HippoRoller is a deceptively efficient water carrier with the potential to offer huge health, economic, and social benefits to developing communities.

The HippoRoller is a heavy-duty plastic drum that can be filled upright, then sealed and rolled like a steamroller across rough terrain. The 24-gallon (90L) tank weighs 200 pounds when full, but the rolling drum has a functional weight of just 22 pounds, so virtually anyone can use it. The current design has been tweaked to ease shipping and transportation of the carriers, which are manufactured in Johannesburg, South Africa. They are distributed mainly by local NGOs to communities throughout southern Africa, along with training on water purification and sanitation.

HippoRoller In Action (photo: HippoRoller.org)
HippoRoller In Action (photo: HippoRoller.org)

The projected lifespan of a HippoRoller is five to seven years, but some of the original models from over 10 years ago are still going strong. And a single HippoRoller can hold a day’s water for an entire family of five, which translates into an immense impact from just one carrier.

HippoRoller Water Carriers (photo: HippoRoller.org)
HippoRoller Water Carriers (photo: HippoRoller.org)

The product itself is an efficient and clever design solution to a unique problem, but the benefits are potentially much broader. The HippoRoller website states:

“The daily burden of water collection undermines productivity, limits educational opportunities and traps households in poverty. The Hippo Water Roller is one of the few strategies that focuses specifically on reducing the social, economic and health consequences of carrying heavy loads of water over long distances.”

First, by greatly reducing the amount of time needed to obtain water, the HippoRoller allows users the freedom for more productive activities like school and farming. And second, beyond fulfilling the direct survival need of water, there are other equally important advantages to help a population remain healthy, and thus more productive and self-sufficient.The HippoRoller helps users avoid disabling injuries from hauling heavy buckets over rough terrain, and the food-grade construction is far safer than common alternatives like converted fuel cans.

For more information, visit the HippoRoller website at  www.HippoRoller.org

18 thoughts on “HippoRoller Water Carrier – Simple Efficiency With A Far-Reaching Payoff”

  1. I think it’s absurd that some of the commenters are worried about the plastics used in these. Even if they did leech, does that really matter? Do you not understand how much these water carries help people? Would you rather carry buckets of water for miles in the hot sun?

    also, “Build water pipe lines, or even better, make them build them, put them to work so they can earn for a living, give them purpose..”

    I’d like this commenter to spend a month living in a third world country. Then you will see how “little” work these people truly do.

  2. This is a very familiar product to me, and I am glad they are using it outside the developed country. I grew up in Britain and went on many vacations with my family in our tiny camper / caravan (as I would call it) / bumper-pulled travel trailer, and this style water carrier was usually how we provided water to the interior of our caravan. Ours was a brand known as “aquaroll” and had two raised rubber rims or ‘tires’ that helped it get traction on uneven ground, but other than that, it was pretty much identical, down to the detachable handle. Us kids thought it was great fun to be given the task of going to the faucet to fill it up – the rolling action made it so easy even a young kid could do it on their own with no problem. I’m glad someone thought to take it to places that really need that kind of design more than we do for our leisure pursuits.

  3. Build water pipe lines, or even better, make them build them, put them to work so they can earn for a living, give them purpose..
    Make the economy viable by paying for their infrastructure, but giving training and schooling to them so they can do the job.

    “Lediggang er roten til alt ondt.”
    Norwegian saying..

  4. Build water pipe lines, or even better, make them build them, put them to work so they can earn for a living, give them purpose..
    Make the economy viable by paying for their infrastructure, but giving training and schooling to them so they can do the job.

    “Lediggang er roten til alt ondt.”
    Norwegian saying.

  5. I have a couple of things to say about matters like this.
    First, No matter what kind of plastic these containers are made from, it’s a hell of a lot safer than dehydration and pathogens that are sure to cause illness and death. We need to stop telling people that new ways of thinking is bad. If the alternative to change is worse than change it’s time to change.
    Convincing people that G.M. foods and Plastic containers will harm them,while they face starvation and death is wrong. If you have leftovers and a running tap you have no room to be against this and other ideas like it. Love the idea. NUF SAID

  6. Next we send then the plastic dome type distillers for drinking water, and then computers solar powered and stuffed with the knowledge that got us into the dependency cycle with oil! Progress, a mad dash in circles?

  7. It needs a brake. Like a lever you push down to the ground, to keep it from rolling on an incline, or like the stopper dealio on the front of a pair of roller skates, to slow down, if descending.

  8. Bill,

    The comment immediately before yours specifies that the product is made of Polyethylene! Specifically, according to wikipedia, it’s made from Linear Low-Density Polyethylene. According to my (very limited) understanding, LDPE is one of the safest and most eco-friendly plastics, easy to produce without any of the nasty toxins involved in PVC or Polycarbonate.

  9. Benjamin,

    Great points, true it is a huge improvement and sweet design.


    True, those are some bad chemicals. Is the Hipporoller made using them? …have you seen “The Disappearing Male” documentary on cbc.ca? That sums it up.

  10. Love the product, love the team that made it possible. What kind of plastic are they using to make Hippo Rollers, hopefully not Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC), Polystyrene (PS), or Polycarbonates.
    These plastics are proven to leach human carcinogens like benzene and biphenyl-A. If so, please change to another type of plastic otherwise they will be inadvertently introducing additional health issues.

  11. Hi Raj-
    The HippoRoller is designed to be a safe and hygenic water carrier, built from food-grade, UV stabilized polyethylene. This is a huge improvement on makeshift water carriers that are commonly used, such as old fuel cannisters or chemical drums. Also, to maintain sanitation, the screw-top opening was designed large enough to allow thorough cleaning of the inside of the drum.

  12. That is great but what about the leaching involved in the plastic used? Plastic can be very harmful to humans, especially when it is heated and banged around.

    1. You have a point, but in contrast to its alternatives, the benefits far far exceed the risk. One man can get water for his entire family, by himself for instance, this frees his children to do other activities, like school.

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