In the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India, women spend an average of six hours per day collecting water. This statistic is mirrored in countries throughout the Global South where women and girls disproportionately bear the time and physical constraints of water collection. In response, U.S. social venture Wello has developed a device known as the WaterWheel.
The WaterWheel is made from durable high-quality plastic and is capable of carrying up to 50 litres of water at a time. Because the jug is equipped with a wheel and can handle rough terrain, water can be transported between sites easily and efficiently.
The WaterWheel is currently being piloted in Rajasthan with plans to soon expand to Madya Pradesh and Gujarat. While it is too early to tell for sure, the many potential gender, health and economic benefits of the WaterWheel device are worth highlighting.
Women spend 25 percent of their day collecting water, a task that is not only extremely physically demanding, but also limits their ability to participate in income-generating activities. Additionally, in Rajasthan, an estimated 75 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 drop out of school due to household obligations like collecting water. With the WaterWheel’s capacity to hold approximately three to five times more water than traditional methods, women and girls’ time is freed up to participate in education and employment opportunities. Furthermore, Wello has noted that the device has been well-received by men and they have even begun sharing the responsibility of collecting water.
From a health standpoint, the WaterWheel helps eliminate the threat of waterborne disease, one of India’s leading causes of death. The wheel includes a cap-in-cap design that prevents contamination during transport and at the point of use. This ensures the water remains safe for drinking and hand-washing.
In an effort to keep the product affordable in India, Wello has sourced a local Gujarat manufacturer and partnered with corporate CSR departments. The device will be priced at $25-30 USD, made possible by bulk production and slim margins. Wello also has high hopes for what the device will be capable to doing down the line; they have cited drip irrigation, power generation and surfaces for social marketing as just a few of the potential functions the WaterWheel could perform after further research and development.
This impressive device is the product of 18 months of research and interviews with over 1500 community members, practitioners and experts in India. Its development was made possible through a $100,000 prize Wello received from Grand Challenges Canada which is funded by the Canadian Government.
For more information on Wello’s WaterWheel, click here.