Dr. Farshad Rastegar, CEO of Relief International, parent agency of EnterpriseWorks/VITA says he believes the innovation is a “game changer” in the world of rainwater harvesting. “Within the next decade the storage bag will make a major dent in the problem of water faces by tens of millions of families around the world. It does so because it is simple, affordable and scalable.” The solution is built around an existing product that is already being manufactured, making testing and modification process less complicated.
Over the past two years since the contest ended EW has taken the product forward. Modifications have been based on field testing in 150 households in Uganda, focus group discussions with potential clients and inputs from manufacturers. The rainwater bag has come a long way from the initial idea with a new shape to make it more stable as well as features required by the consumers, including a brown color, outlet tap, and inlet screen. It actually holds almost three times as much water as was required — more than 350 gallons.
The greater the capacity of the device, the less the demand on the women who now must carry water to their villages from distant water sources — the average roundtrip worldwide is 3.7 miles. As a result, women will be able to spend more time working in the fields or taking care of children, a major economic benefit for the family. Teenage girls who now help with the daily water carrying will now be able to attend school.
In March of 2011 “bob” the rainwater bag was formally launched in three districts in Uganda with a promotional campaign using radio, print and live events promoting “bob” with sales through existing commercial channels. The ease of transport, low cost and large storage volume are the key selling points.
Tabitha Tusingwire, an Ugandan woman used collect water from a nearby borehole. When the borehole was down, she had no choice but to walk 30 minutes to an unprotected water hole — three to four times a day. “I no longer suffer walking long distances four times a day to get water from the well whose water is very dirty,” Tabitha said, adding that she is relieved to no longer have to struggle to provide water for her family.
Bob only costs $54 USD, and allows women like Tabitha to spend more time working outside the home, in roles that enable them to earn money. Those who have benefited from bob have found not only relief from long trips to water holes, but also improved health and more time to use on other work – both in and outside the home.