This Backpack Made in Columbus Helps Women and Kids Around the World
In water-stressed regions, women and children often bear the burden of transporting heavy gallons of water, typically in unsanitary containers, from the source to their homes. With PackH2O, local companies aim to change this paradigm. Here's how a simple backpack provides a novel solution for one of the world's most widespread problems.
Manufacturing company Greif makes the packs, and Impact Economics, a local startup that builds social entrepreneurships, distributes them via non-governmental organizations (like Habitat for Humanity International) in countries around the world.
At 27 inches tall and 17 inches wide, the pack evenly distributes weight across the user's shoulders and hips, easing stress on her neck, head, spine and arms.
The packs are designed to carry five gallons of water at a time (a child's pack is designed to carry half that amount), which weighs 44 pounds, but it can support more than 300 pounds.
After filling the pack, users roll it closed and secure it with ties. Users empty water from the bag through a plastic spout near the base, and they can sanitize the removable liner (but not the water inside) by leaving it in the sun.
"We don't carry our books on our head; we put them in backpacks because our shoulders are stronger," says Tony Somers of Impact Economics. "We believe the body will respond better long-term to this method."
In two years, about 175,000 packs have been distributed in 33 countries, including Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia and the Philippines.