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Hans HendrikseWater drum eases burden

Published in 1996clockTime to read: 40s
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The Q Drum invented by South African architect Hans Hendrikse has improved the lives of many thousands in developing countries, providing a simple, easy means to transport up to 50 litres of water at a time.

locationSouth Africa

In developing countries, fetching water can be a health hazard. Women and children are often forced to lug heavy, cumbersome containers over long distances, risking back and neck injuries. But South African architect Hans Hendrikse devised a simple solution with his low-cost, rolling water container. The Q Drum, co-designed with his brother Pieter, needed to be “as simple, repairable and replaceable as possible” so it could be used in rural areas and did not need to be lifted. Combining their architectural and engineering skills, the brothers came up with the donut-shaped plastic container, which has a longitudinal shaft or central hole, through which a rope is tied, to pull or roll the drum along all terrains. The Q-Drum has improved many thousands of lives.

After evaluating a drum that has been in use daily for 20 months, we calculated that it travelled a distance of 12,000 kilometres, made seven million revolutions, and provided 13 people with 120,000 litres of household water.

Hendrikse passed away in 2012, but his rollable water container continues to be produced at the principal manufacturing location in Johannesburg. It has been featured in exhibitions around the world, including at the Science Museum and the Serpentine Galleries in London.

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