Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fetching Water With a Q Drum: Looks Simple

Q Drum
"the rollable water container for developing countries"

"Water is essential to the survival of all forms of life and a clean and accessible supply is a basic need that millions of people around the world do not have. In disadvantaged and rural communities, the burden of fetching water invariably over long distances by cumbersome and far too often, unhygienic means is all too evident. The Q Drum is the simple, durable, effective and user-friendly solution to this problem. A device designed to improve the lives and health of countless people around the world...."

Looks like a good idea.

Ideally, folks living all over the world would have the sort of water treatment plant that's on the north side of Sauk Centre, where the Lemming lives. Plus the water tower, pumps, water mains and sewer system we've got.


Until everybody can afford that, technology like the Q Drum could make the job of getting clean drinking water easier. And, in some cases, practical.

From the company's About the Q Drum page:

"The idea of the Q Drum originated in response to the needs of rural people in developing countries who have a problem carrying adequate quantities of potable water from a reliable source.

"A burden which is generally bestowed on the women and children of each community. In Africa for example, many debilitating back and neck injuries are a result of women carrying heavy loads on their heads.

"Rolling water in a cylindrical vessel was the only solution that seemed to make sense and allow for a greater quality of life in this regard...."

The Q Drum is essentially a plastic drum with a hollow shaft down the center. The company's website says it's made of Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE), a synthetic material that's safe for carrying drinking water and "dry foodstuffs" - by which I gather they mean food like grain or flour.

It's got a fifty liter capacity - filled with water, it weighs 54.5 kilograms. If I did the math right, that's roughly 120 pounds. Once someone got it moving, it shouldn't be too hard to keep going on a relatively smooth, level surface. Going up or down slopes, though, might require planning - in the Lemming's opinion.

The thing comes with a rope - but if that breaks, just about anything long and flexible will do: a leather strap; or, of course, another rope. The website doesn't put it this way: but rope is a very common technology, quite possibly among the first we developed.

The Q Drum does have a 'down' side. A set of these things is cheaper than an urban water treatment facility - by far. But they're not exactly cheap, either.

The company has a Pricing page that discusses this - and has a table with costs per unit.

Somebody buying between 1 and 99 of them would pay R500 per unit. I assume that's 500 Rand - the South African currency unit. That might be around $72 USD. But don't take the Lemming's word for that. For one thing, currency values change over time.

The point is, as it says on that page: " 'The people that need them need can't afford them & must rely on people who can afford them but don't need them' "

Well, it's not a perfect world.

Some of the outfits that are helping Haiti might be interested in picking up Q Drums in large lots and taking them where they're needed.

Which brings the Lemming, somewhat clumsily, to Haiti: which doesn't seem to be doing any worse than last week; but not all that much better, either.Apparently there are already Q Drums in Haiti:And that's another topic.

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