‘Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.’ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi beautifully illustrates how access to water is the foundation for every other factor of our existence.
Global access to ‘improved water sources’ (piped water grids, protected wells and tanks or boreholes) is far from comprehensive, and if you are interested in statistics on it there are some detailed numbers here, here & here (from the big guns UN, WHO/UNICEF, & World Bank). Which ever way you look at it, a significant amount of people will continue to need to transport their own water for a long time to come, a major portion of which will not have a vehicle or animal to help them do so.
Non-motorized options for transporting water are few, and if you remove bicycles, livestock, and carts from the equation (because of their relative expense when weighed against family income) then you are only left with your feet and which ever container you can carry. The combined volumes of water transported globally every day by foot are profound, people are virtually moving great lakes if not oceans.
Current methods of human powered water transport are dominated by head loading, which for what it makes up for in its affordability and terrain potentials, is limited in its capacity and involved health concerns. Water collection is generally tasked to female family members who are already spending a lot of time with the many other family tasks expected of them, and who due to this may be missing out on other opportunities.
In early 2012 Catapult Design helped Wello investigate human powered water transportation options and methods, and how the experience of collecting, storing and using water in target communities might be improved. Wello concentrated its initial research and piloting efforts in rural and urban areas of India that lack access to ‘improved water sources’. After several months of work, Wello revealed the WaterWheel 2.0 in December 2012. The 2.0 is a re-designed of Wello’s original WaterWheel that begins field trials in 2012/2013.
Client: Wello, India
Wello’s mission is to effectively deliver clean water to a thirsty world. They are a water infrastructure provider, their first priority being to offer designs that optimize water transport, distribution, storage and sustainable use to families who earn between $2 – $4 per day in India. Their inspiration stems from years of working at the grassroots level & coming face to face with the water crisis. Wello is a hybrid social venture composed of a non-profit (501c3) and a for-profit (c-corp) entity.
A review of our street prototyping and testing methods in Rajasthan. (4/12)
A little bit about our design research methodology for this project. (12/12)
Some photos from the prototyping phase in India.