It has been a few months since the last Talking Travel installment, but we're back in action in 2010. First up, I'm really excited to have a short interview with Grant Gibbs, who is one of the guys behind the Hippo Water Roller Project.
In case you've never heard of it, the hippo roller is a large drum that can hold 90 litres (24 gallons) of water and can be pushed along the ground, making it much easier to transport clean drinking water. It's a simple technology that has the capacity to make a huge difference in places where water is scarce.
On Travellerspoint, we're running The Hippo Roller Challenge until the end of February (it started in November). We're hoping to donate a stack of hippo rollers at the end of February, but we need your help! Please click here to find out how you can help us donate as many hippo rollers as possible.
In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Grant, where he shares more about the Hippo Water Roller Project and how it got started.
When was the idea for the Hippo Water Roller Project born?
Two South African engineers working in the arms industry used their talents to develop a better way of transporting water over long distances. Growing up in a farming community, they saw the need for this. While developing a wheel barrow with a low centre of gravity, it was found that the most expensive component was the wheel. With some lateral thinking the idea was born to put the water "in" the wheel. The Hippo Water Roller, formally known as the "Aqua Roller", was designed in 1991 and received its first design award in 1992 from the SABS Design Institute of South Africa.
What are the key benefits a hipporoller brings to a community?
More water means a better quality of life. The more obvious benefits of having a Hippo Water Roller are the savings in time and energy while collecting water. These translate into more time for other important household tasks. Mostly women and children are required to collect water every day of their lives, often from long distances away. Women are empowered to start vegetable gardens and generate an income. Children are able to attend more school improving their chances for employment. The media attention at handover ceremonies attract a lot of attention to the community, putting them "on the map" which results in other needs being met like roads, transport and medical services.
What does the future hold for the Hippo Water Roller Project?
Significant interest has been generated in this appropriate technology and we expect to set up a number of mobile manufacturing plants in undeveloped countries this year, which will save substantial shipping costs from South Africa. We also plan to include a water filtering mechanism to provide clean healthy water some time later this year. Our network is growing all the time and there are a number of fundraising campaigns in the pipeline. Our goal is to partner with many NGOs and corporate businesses to enable us to distribute significantly more Hippo rollers where they are needed.
What do you think are the three things any visitor to South Africa should be sure to check out?
Visiting Cape Town is a must - there are so many attractions there. Apart from the usual tourist attractions like the cable way to the top of Table Mountain, and Robben Island; travelling to some wine farms like Fairview and Vergelegen is a wonderful experience as well as the Boulders in Simonstown where you can swim with penguins. A visit to a game farm is always a great experience, with so many to choose from in the Kruger Park area and Natal; try the CCA group. The Drakensberg Mountains are also spectacular and my favourite place to stay over is Cleopatra’s Mountain Farmhouse – come very hungry!
Remember, you can help us donate hippo rollers by taking part in The Hippo Roller Challenge.