Wednesday, 8 February 2023

WaterWheel, Wello, 2022

Water is an essential requirement for all life, but it is estimated that over two billion people live in areas where there is no access to clean water. Across the world many women and children travel long distances each day to collect water for drinking, hygiene and crop irrigation, affecting life chances for themselves and their families.

AIBDC : 009138
Image credit: MoDiP

MoDiP’s current exhibition, Endurance, looks at the ways in which plastics materials have been used in a variety of situations and environments to support life, including in areas of drought. It explores how plastics have been used to ease the burden of carrying clean water long distances, showcasing the Wello WaterWheel (refer image above), the brainchild of Cynthia Koenig. She was inspired to develop something to help alleviate the difficulties of collecting and carrying water which she had observed when living and working, for almost two decades, with communities throughout Central America, Southern Africa and South and Southeast Asia. She is a ‘firm believer in the potential for business to alleviate poverty in the developing world’ and has helped launch a range of ventures, of which the development, manufacture and distribution of the Wello WaterWheel is one.
It was the result of a series of pilot projects across India by a team who engaged with thousands of potential users, its shape inspired by the matka, an earthenware pot traditionally used in India for water storage in the home (refer image below).

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The drum, made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), is rolled on its side, with the help of a metal handlebar, rather than carried. It has reinforced axels that protect the outer skin of the WaterWheel from wear and tear and handholds on either side provide better handling. The balanced shape is designed to increase performance over rough terrain, and it can be managed easily by a child. Its 45 litre capacity enables more water to be transported at once, meaning fewer trips, resulting in more time to spend on childcare, school work or employment. Produced and distributed within India, it retails for an affordable price. 

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The Wello WaterWheel is on display in MoDiP until 10th March 2023, and here it is on the left, below, drawn by one of our talented MA Fine Art students who was sketching the museum back in November.

Image credit: Sourabh Sharma, November 2022.

Pam Langdown
Documentation Officer 

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