FAQ & Resources

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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Hippo Rollers are deliberately manufactured to be long-lasting with daily use in tough rural conditions using a specialised roto-moulding process – it takes one hour to make one drum.

The steel handle has been upgraded to stainless steel to reduce potential corrosion in many high humidity territories where it is used.

The typical lifespan is 5-7 years, often longer depending on the prevailing conditions and frequency of use.. Due to the fact that most Hippo Rollers are sponsored or donated, we want to provide good value for money – NOT “made to break”.

Depending on the options selected (like local delivery and handover ceremony), and assuming a conservative lifespan of just 5 years – one Hippo Roller costs about 11c (USD) per household per day.

Boreholes and wells are a fantastic solution for communities that do not have access to water close by. However, this only solves half of the problem. Water still needs to be carried all the way home which is difficult and very time-consuming.

The ongoing high costs of maintenance and theft, which are a common occurrence, interrupts the supply of water. 

Combining Hippo Rollers with boreholes and wells is an ideal solution as the placement can be more strategically located to cover a wider territory. The Hippo Roller also provides a flexible infrastructure to access other water points in the event of interruptions.

It is specifically designed to be maintenance-free and highly durable for daily use even in tough rural conditions which include uneven gravel surfaces, sharp stones, footpaths and even hilly terrain.

The stresses caused by rolling over uneven surfaces are diffused around the entire shape of the drum which has flexible properties and no joins – made as one solid piece. Sand granules are embedded in the rolling surface which adds an extra layer of protection. The wall is thick enough to prevent punctures, giving it a 5 to 7-year life span, often much longer.

Extensive tests over the last 27 years and various awards have proven the Hippo Roller to be both effective and durable.

The innovative design of the Hippo Roller means that the majority of the weight is dispersed on the ground. A full drum of 90L (24 gal) has a weight of approximately 90kg (200 lbs), but the effective weight when pushing or pulling the Hippo Roller on level ground is just 10kg (22 lbs).

Far less effort is required to move a full Hippo Roller than to carry 20 litres (5 gal) of water on your head in the traditional manner. Most water carriers are women and children who love using the Hippo Roller.

The drum of the Hippo Roller is made from UV stabilized linear low-density polyethylene. LLDPE is one of the safest eco-friendly plastics and is used in most water storage tanks. It is considered a low hazard plastic and is approved food-grade material.

This is a huge improvement on second-hand water containers that are normally used, many of which previously contained harmful substances.

The newly designed Utility Cap allows users to conveniently and hygienically draw water without contaminating the contents of the drum and ensures hygienic storage of clean water.

The main focus of Hippo Roller is to improve access to water. Clean portable water is achieved by pairing a range of 3rd party filters onto the Utility Cap and/or adding water purification products into the drum. Some of the 3rd party filters and purification products we have used include Sawyer, LifeStraw, Madidrop and Aquatabs.

The use of Bio-Sand filters is highly recommended as they do not require an ongoing supply of filters and purification products which, in rural locations, can be difficult to ensure a sustained supply.

Although the plastic drums and caps could be recycled, we have found that users are unwilling to return damaged rollers and would rather re-purpose them as storage bins, plant pots, feeding and water troughs for animals, even baths for washing clothes and children.
It is also very difficult to source sufficient recycled LLDPE material and so we only use virgin material since we want the maximum lifespan for the Hippo Roller because they are generally funded with donor and sponsor funds.

The Hippo Water Roller is manufactured to be very durable and for this reason does not easily break or land up on the scrap heap.

Articles & Publications

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“O” Magazine, USA, Feb 2010.

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The Economist, p.13. London, 2003.

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Reports & Assessments