Innovation Helping Families Gather Water

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Posted on 2/4/2014
Image of child with water
Clean water can be scarce in Kenya, but a new device hopes to make collecting and transporting water easier. Photo by Jake Lyell.

One company hopes to revolutionize how families living in poverty can transport water with a new invention known as the Wello Wheel.

Families living in countries affected by drought face many challenges. In Kenya, women and children often have little choice but to walk several miles to the nearest well to find clean drinking water. These journeys can be long and arduous, and there's never enough water once they do get home. However, one company hopes to revolutionize how families living in poverty can transport water thanks to an innovative new invention known as the Wello Wheel.

Helping Through Innovation

Cynthia Koenig, CEO of Wello, first unveiled the concept of the Wello Wheel at a social enterprise competition sponsored by the University of Washington Foster School of Business in Seattle in 2011. At that time, all Koenig had was an idea. Since then, however, she and her company have refined the concept of the Wello Wheel, and today, the device could help families transport water from well to home with greater ease.

The Wello Wheel resembles a drum turned on its side. At either end of the canister, two support struts serve as handles, enabling the device to be pushed. The Wello Wheel can be filled with water and then rolled along the ground, eliminating the need to carry cumbersome pails of water. The device also closes securely, so none of the precious water is spilled in transit.

Although the Wello Wheel is much closer to being a finished product than a prototype, Koenig still wants to test the device in countries where it would be most useful to gauge user feedback and improve upon its design. Thanks in part to a grant awarded through the Grand Challenges Canada program, Koenig will be testing the wheels with the help of Kenyan families to see how they work in the field and what adjustments should be made.

"We need to test this in different countries, with differing terrains, cultures and challenges," Koenig says. "We had assumed that because women were the ones usually collecting water that we should market just to women. We discovered that men also wanted to use it. And when they did, the mothers could attend more to the children, getting them prepared for school and so on."

Huge Potential

In Kenya, Ethiopia and other countries where drought can wreak havoc on crops and impact millions of lives, innovative devices like the Wello Wheel could have a major impact. However, there are other ways to help families access clean drinking water.

ChildFund works across much of sub-Saharan Africa, and several of our programs have resulted in increased access to water for thousands of children and their families. Thanks to the generosity of our child sponsors and monthly giving partners, we have been able to help install rain collection systems, dig and improve wells and run other projects that provide clean, safe water for children to drink.

Expanding access to clean water is not just about quenching thirst. Many preventable diseases that are prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa are transmitted through unclean drinking water and can result in potentially fatal health complications such as diarrhea. Children under the age of 5 are often at the greatest risk, as their immune systems cannot fight off infections as effectively.

To help ChildFund bring clean water to the world's poorest communities, please consider becoming a monthly giving partner today. With your donation, you can allow us to provide aid where the need is greatest. This does not just apply to clean drinking water, but also nutritious food and lifesaving health care that many children in need depend on for survival.