Good Thinking

Refillable vest offers last-mile wearable transport for clean water

Refillable vest offers last-mi...
The team has developed several prototypes of its WaterVest
The team has developed several prototypes of its WaterVest
View 2 Images
The reusable WaterVest costs around the same as a heavy duty plastic bag 
1/2
The reusable WaterVest costs around the same as a heavy duty plastic bag 
The team has developed several prototypes of its WaterVest
2/2
The team has developed several prototypes of its WaterVest

While water scarcity gets a lot of attention, simply transporting this vital resource is in itself a huge dilemma. Women spend around 200 million hours a day hauling clean water around, and just 16 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to it in their homes. WaterVest is a wearable bladder designed to lighten the load, allowing users to carry several days' worth of water for a family in a single trip.

The reusable WaterVest costs around the same as a heavy-duty plastic bag to produce, and is made from recyclable plastics. It is designed to evenly distribute the load across the user's body and comes as a one-size-fits-all vest, with the idea being that it can be filled to match the wearer's comfort, be they big or small.

At full capacity, the WaterVest can transport 40 liters (10.5 US gal) at a time, which the developers say is enough for a family of four for four days. It self-seals to prevent contaminants entering the supply, and can be filled and emptied without the use of utensils. This prevents "double-dipping" and therefore, the spread of germs and infectious diseases.

The team says that the idea of WaterVest is not to replace the provision of clean water, but to augment it. The trips saved using the bladder in place of water bottles, buckets or jerry cans could prevent injury and add up to millions of hours, the team says – valuable time that could instead be used for more productive pursuits like education.

With several prototypes already developed, the team is looking to raise funds on Indiegogo to produce a small batch to test in the field. From there, it will refine the design and use the money to analyze the data collected from users in order to optimize the design. Pledges for a WaterVest prototype start at US$50.

You can check out the pitch video below.

Source: WaterVest

Watervest: The Last Mile Solution

5 comments
5 comments
Daishi
In most of the scenarios I can think of that doing this would be useful I think I would struggle from wearing the plastic because it doesn't breath. Even in cold weather a lot of moisture would build between you and the vest. The website says a benefit is that it's "Inexpensive. One vest is roughly the cost of a heavy duty plastic garbage bag." but that's 40 cents not the $50/each they are selling them at. The heavy water sloshing around would also make moving around with it really uncomfortable and if you are in a position that your life depends on the water inside it the high risk of puncture or leaks would also pose a significant problem. If this was a superior method to carry weight to a backpack why are front mounted rucksacks not a thing? If people with rucksacks need more storage they get a bigger ruck rather than carry weight up front for all the same reasons this would be a poor idea. If you lean over or forward or pick something up all the front carried weight would be uncomfortably hanging from the back of your neck. It's like some dude made a bet with a friend that he could sell $25,000 of plastic bags for $50/each (plus shipping!) on indiegogo if he found a way to brand the effort as helping impoverished people around the world. Oh but unlike water bottles that contribute to plastic waste it's eco friendly and eliminates plastic pollution! But wait there's more. They take up 500x less space than water bottles when shipped in a shipping container to regions in need of water* (as long as you ship them empty without the water). I want to believe this is satire :)
CarolynFarstrider
Women and children in central Africa routinely carry 20 litres of water per person, per day, from wells and boreholes a mile or more away from their homes, using jerry cans. They do it because that's how much water is needed to sustain life. 2.5 litres per day per person is perhaps sufficient to drink, but does not enable a civilised lifestyle. If the money invested in nonsensical moneymaking (for the 'inventor') schemes like this were invested in decent water schemes, there could be genuine benefit. Give your money to WaterAid instead.
Fritz
Exactly, Daishi. Could we please think more about developing infrastructure and pleasant living conditions? A black painted shoe box is no solar stove and a plastic water vest still would mean woman have to CARRY the water. Sometimes I feel if someone has a stupid idea they sell it under adopted technologies - and even get funding for it - what an offense.
JA Larson
There is a new technology called the wheel. Why not a locally made water cart on wheels? Variety of ways to make one. Bicycles are available, so carts shouldn't be difficult.
Like micro-loans, you want to create a local self-supporting infrastructure with economic gains.
Ralf Biernacki
Actually, this is a very poor design. It puts the weight on the shoulders rather than on the hips as a proper backpack should, and forces the wearer to walk slowly and gingerly to prevent bouncing and ripping---observe the video. The bag is flimsy and uncomfortable, and the amount of water carried is much smaller than even the traditional jerrycan---again, observe the video. There already is a much better solution, the water roller barrel. The video for the WaterVest claims the roller is "heavy". Duh. The roller contains what, ten times as much water per trip---it is the water that is "heavy". But the roller actually ends up being much lighter than the vest, because the weight rests on the ground, not on the shoulders. The video also claims that the roller is "expensive". In fact, it is much, much cheaper than the WaterVest, at an outrageous $50 a pop. Finally it says the roller "needs smooth terrain". But water carriers do not negotiate rough terrain---they walk over dirt roads. And I seriously doubt that the awkward and flimsy vest could be carried effectively over rough terrain either. This poorly thought-out solution is not likely to be accepted by the people for whom it is intended---notice that in the video there are no native users shown. I think this is nothing more than an attempt to game people's compassion to make money at IndieGogo.