Drinking water in rural Mozambique is a luxury.
Most of the 30,000 people who live in the Manjacaze district of Gaza Province travel long distances every day to collect drinking water, carrying it on their heads.
This system causes major health problems in women and children who are responsible for collecting enough water for their families. Children often skip school to do this important task. When temperatures climb higher, the task of getting water becomes both more difficult and more vital.
As a Mozambican national, I always search for ways to help my country to thrive. So, a year ago, my wife and I and the Carlos Morgado Foundation created a crowdfunding campaign to fund, transport, and distribute 30 Hippo Rollers around Mangundze, in the district of Manjacaze, to give the community better access to drinking water. We wanted a tool that would have an immediate impact in the community, and the Hippo Roller was a perfect choice.
Hippo Rollers are plastic drums with 90 liters of capacity designed and developed in neighboring South Africa that allow people to collect drinking water and roll it back to their homes with ease.
Hippo Rollers are faster and less physically taxing than traditional methods, opening up women and children’s time for education and other activities.
We originally planned for five families to share each drum. Beyond meeting basic humanitarian needs, the communal property can instill a sense of engagement, empowerment, responsibility, and accountability among the community members.
A year ago, several of my Ayers Saint Gross colleagues contributed to the fund, for which I’m so grateful. Our firm knows the power of community building and ecological sustainability, so the Hippo Rollers were the kind of project I knew my colleagues would support.
With assistance from Juan Gabriel Arias of the Mission of Mangundze, a community committee mapped the geographic areas that each drum would serve and its schedule among the five beneficiary families. They also identified community leaders to support the process. Those leaders became responsible for the management of each drum, distributing them on schedule, and providing regular maintenance. In six months, the community committee successfully distributed all 30 Hippo Rollers and provided oversight for usage and schedules.
After a short period of skepticism with regard to transporting water in a rolling plastic drum, the acceptance and demand was incredibly high.
A few months after the final distribution we did a survey to identify the total impact of the Hippo Rollers on the community. Using an average of 5 individuals per family, the summary of beneficiaries is as follows:
This year, we propose to expand the distribution and affect more lives with 60 more Hippo Rollers around Mangundze. Aside from the crowdfunding campaign, we will also purchase 10 Hippo Rollers to test a rent-to-own solution. We were approached by some families who were interested in buying their own drums, which is a testament to how useful a tool the Hippo Rollers really are.
Hippo Rollers do not replace the need for new drinking water sources, but they have made a significant impact in Mangundze. With a lifespan of five to seven years, the drums will continue to benefit the community in the immediate future while alternative sustainable solutions are assessed.
If you can, we hope you will contribute to the campaign. All donations, large or small, make a difference. Every contribution helps, and all the money goes directly to a Hippo Roller that will help a Mozambican family.
At Ayers Saint Gross, we engage people and place to create designs that enrich our world. Mostly that mission takes the form of design work for our clients, but it also includes support for projects like this one.
You can find the campaign here: Drinking Water in Mangundze 2016.