20081227-the-goals3In a recent interview with Hippo Water founder Cynthia Koenig, we learned a bit more about the recent re-design of the Hippo Roller. It was a dream experience for this blog.


The challenge

Traditional water transport

  • In third-world countries, women and children must haul water over long distances in order to supply their communities with clean, safe water.
  • Alternative sources like wells are only functional 6-8 months of the year, and well pumps are unreliable or fuel to power them can be difficult to obtain
  • The first version of the Hippo Roller multiplied the hauling capacity of a single person but the cost of manufacturing and shipping them limits the number of people they can impact.
  • Hippos are currently manufactured in South Africa but are needed in other countries such as India and Siberia.

Enter Project H Design and Engineers Without Borders
Emily Pilloton took interest in the Hippo challenge and began with fundraising for a “Hippo drop” – the term for a distribution of Hippos to a community – as the founding project for Project H. During the Hippo drop the designers visited the Johannesburg manufacturing facility and identified an opportunity for design improvements.

Project H partnered with Engineers Without Borders’s Appropriate Technologies’ Design Team and split into two teams: one focused on reducing cost in any way, and one focused on playing with the inherent design of the device. We find the Flickr photos of the design process to be fascinating. Here are a few of our favorites:


One meeting asks, "What do men do?", considering the social cause for women and children needing to do the hauling.
One meeting asks, “What do men do?”, considering the social cause for women and children needing to do the hauling.

Presentation of concepts using current water containers for transport
Presentation of concepts using current water containers for transport

The most viable options progressed to 3-D modeling with design features called out.
The most viable options progressed to 3-D modeling with design features called out.

The compact nesting size of the final designThe final solution was to break the hippo in 2 for nesting.final hippo
The final design

The next step: India
These redesigned hippos need a new passport stamp! See below to learn how one click – your vote – can send Hippo Water to India. Today is the last day to vote!

20081227-the-goals7The Acumen Fund blog this week posted a call for solutions to the energy challenges posed by wood-burning stoves responsible for much of the black carbon causing 18 percent of global warming, according to the New York Times. Much of the third world uses wood as fuel because it is widely available and free, but the stoves they use to burn the wood are inefficient and produce large amounts of smoke and soot, causing major health and pollution problems.

Acumen Fund’s main criticisms of alternative stoves like rocket stoves and solar cookers are as follows:

There are lots of stove technologies…out there that can do the job better and use cleaner fuels, but the capital costs are higher and the distribution models are complex. Incentives from the carbon markets…have not provided enough benefit to drive the adoption of clean cooking products…getting certified through the Kyoto Protocol is a long and complicated process, a real barrier for start-ups interested in attacking the stove problem.

20090501_great-darfur-smoke-outCould the Berkeley Darfur Stove be a solution?

  • They certainly are not the cheapest solution, placing the stove at $20 on a stove comparison chart that cites their main competition – stoves made of three stones or mud/dung over burning wood – as $1, and the only two more expensive – solar cookers and the Saves 80 Stove – as $20-57. They claim that the cost is offset by a savings of $240/year due to a 75 percent reduction in wood consumption with this stove.
  • The stove design is indeed well-thought out, citing a wind collar to protect against Darfur’s windy environment, a variety of cooking surfaces for various types of Darfuri cuisine, and a small firebox opening to discourage over-feeding the fire with excess wood.
  • But they may have the edge when it comes to distribution model. By manufacturing the parts in India then flat-packing them for shipping to Sudan for assembly (a la Ikea), the Darfur Stoves project has been able to increase production seven-fold, to 100 stoves per day.

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20081227-the-goals7Here’s proof that design will, in fact, save the world. Nothing has done more to spur the world to action than Al Gore’s presentation-turned-movie, An Inconvenient Truth. And what made that presentation so impactful? Duarte Design’s makeover of his presentation slides.

20090112-presentation-heard-round-the-world1I’d like to experiment with this type of format – instead of wordy blog posts, present mini pecha-kucha-style visual stories about world-changing designs. It will be a lot easier for you to digest, but a lot more work for me. I’m hoping that the extra work I put in makes this blog more unique, useful, and interesting to you.

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20081227-the-goals7Here’s a new idea for exploiting hyperactive children: use the merry-go-round to pump clean drinking water to the surrounding community.

A few facts:

  • More than one billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water.
  • Water-related diseases kill 6,000 people a day, and are responsible for 80 percent of all sickness in the world.
  • 40 billion hours are lost annually to hauling water, a chore primarily undertaken by women and girls.

20090106-playground-power-3PlayPumps hook merry-go-rounds up to underground water sources, using the action to pump water to a tank that stands 20 feet above ground. The PlayPump is capable of producing up to 1,400 liters of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 meters, it is effective up to a depth of 100 meters. (For Americans, that means 400 gallons from 100-300 feet)

The PlayPump System is the most sophisticated business of all three playground power designs DFT has covered so far. I like them because they document how they address all 8 of the Millennium Development Goals! All PlayPumps are donated free to sub-Saharan African communities and over 1,000 pumps have been installed. They have a goal of donating 4,000 pumps by 2010. That’s one year from now!

You can help by donating $24 (water for 4 kids for 10 years) to $14,000 (a whole system for 2500 people for 10 years).

20081227-the-goals7We just saw Benjamin Button which reminded us of 2 things close to our hearts…Brad Pitt and New Orleans.

20090102-built-to-last1150 homeowners in a still-devastated district of New Orleans get to choose from 13 customizable design models for new homes built for LEED Platinum certification and for withstanding storms. With a cradle-to-cradle lens guiding materials selection, the materials are not only to be made from sustainable resources but also intended to biodegrade if the houses ever do need to be intentionally destroyed. The first six houses were tested this August by Hurricane Gustav in the final stages of construction, and not a window was lost.

The model designs and pricing subsidies are funded by the Make It Right foundation, jumpstarted by a $5 million personal donation matching pledge by Brad. All models feature open porches – a nod to Southern culture and community – and five-foot elevations – to guard against inevitable floods. The house prices are $150,000 or less, and subsidized if this exceeds 30% of the deed owner’s income.

20090102-built-to-last2This is an example of how celebrities can use their clout to super-boost world-changing efforts. So far, 88 of the 150 homes have been fully sponsored. You can donate as little as $5 to help the 88th house get from $2,939 funded to $150,000 funded. The donation site is cool – you can virtually tour the house and see how much is needed to sponsor each feature, like solar panels or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Brad fell in love with the city during the filming of Interview with a Vampire (1994), was devastated to see its destruction in Hurricane Katrina (2005), campaigned to film Benjamin Button there in 2006 to boost its economy, launched the Make it Right campaign in 2007 to support its rebuilding, and bought his own home there with Angelina Jolie in January 2008.