Our Winning Idea & Mission:
By utilizing, reusing, and repurposing what we already have in abundance, our team will design a better solution to carry the life sustaining resource, water, in developing nations.
As our team independently and then collectively brainstormed ideas, we identified one idea as the clear winner. Thinking in line with the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School credo, “business with humanity in mind”, our team really wanted to pursue an idea that was not only innovative, but could help our target demographic improve their lifestyle & thrive while staying healthy.
Looking at how water is carried in developing countries, it seems like there must be a better way! Children and adults should not need to carry heavy water for miles at a time in rigid containers that put extreme stress on their bodies. With all of the material innovation in plastics, waterproofing, and collapsibility, our team is certain we can design a solution to this problem.
To explore the problem for a second, we look towards a 2010 Environmental Health Study on domestic water carrying and its implications for health. This survey was conducted in South Africa’s rural Limpopo Province, and to be honest, I find the results absolutely horrifying. In the six villages studied, most of the water carrying was done by women and children balancing sloshing containers full of water carefully on their heads. The mean container weight was more than 19.5kg, and the mean distance traveled with a full container was about 337 meters. Not surprisingly, 69% of all the water carriers experienced spinal (neck or back) pain, especially those who carried water on their heads.
The article also quotes interviews taken as part of the study.
“I: ‘ can you tell me about your experiences of carrying water?’
T: ‘ The bad thing might be accidents that happens when you have carried the water and you just hit the road and the stone on the road they have possibility that you might fall with the container on your head, that’ s something that is very bad by carrying water.’
((T: translated response, participant 2, 39 year old woman; I: interviewer question)
T: ‘ what I can say is that the containers are heavy to me, when it is raining we slip on the way when we come back, we’ ve gotten a problem of the knees when we walk down the hill that its painful, the necks also are painful too, even though you have (gotten) a container on top of the head, the shoulders become painful because they have to lean on that container and it become painful too’
(translated response, participant 37, 55 year old woman)”
Source: “Domestic water carrying and its implications for health: a review and mixed methods pilot study in Limpopo Province, South Africa.” Environmental Health 2010 http://www.ehjournal.net/content/9/1/52
I challenge you to request that the nearest 5 year old to carry the equivalent of a large flat screen TV across the length of 4 football fields.
What do you predict will happen? Injuries? Temper tantrum? Flat out refusal? Child abuse accusations?… Now what if you asked your child to do that every single day?
Although carrying water may appear more benign, a kilogram is a kilogram, and poses the same health risks to the bodies of young developing children. Unfortunately, in many cases, adults and children must do this out of necessity in order to survive.
In a world of Facebook, Snapchat, and rapidly evolving technology, it’s heart wrenching that this problem still exists. I sit here staring at my belongings and am frankly disgusted. Counting the multitude of plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, & fabric bags, boxes, & containers that fill my space, I’m overwhelmed. Most are disposable by design, others are thankfully reusable. Some zip, some stick closed, some tie, while others fall apart under stress. Of course, there’s the good few that have stood the test of time, helping me organize and compartmentalize my life into appropriate baggies, boxes, and piles.
Our team sees a brighter future. By utilizing, reusing, and repurposing what we already have in abundance, our team will design a better solution to carry the life sustaining resource, water, in developing nations.