A non-mechanical water device designed for rural South Africa

This 2016 design graduate designed a non-mechanical solution to hand washing in rural South Africa and is exhibiting it as part of the Dubai Global Grad Show.

The Water Pot provides a simple solution to the difficulties and dangers of washing by hand, such as back problems, skin irritations, water pollution and accidental drowning. Created by Balungile Mahlangu, an industrial design student at the University of Technology in South Africa, the Water Pot addresses the problems faced by residents in rural South Africa where proper water and sanitation infrastructure does not exist.

The Water Pot concept is inspired by the traditional pot used to beat maize with a long stick. According to the designer, “There is no back bending, contact with detergents and the pot is covered when in use preventing accidental drowning.”


We spoke to Mahlangu about the project and the way she believes the device will impact the community in rural South Africa.

Who are you and why Design?

My name is Balungile Mahlangu,I am 27 years old, I am studying my final year of Industrial Design at Tshwane University of Technology. I decided to study Industrial Design because I wanted to become a car designer.

Tell us a more about how this idea came to fruition?

The brief asked us to design a non-mechanical, non-electrical washing device for rural and informal residence of South Africa. My research focused on grievances caused by washing clothes by hand, these include backaches, chapped knuckles, and accidental drowning of infants from open tubs.

What questions did you take into consideration during the design process?

We mainly ask users to run us through their operational routine of the product in question, then asked them to tell us about any problems they experience with the product, and where improvements are needed.

What challenges will your product help solve?

Prevent back problems
Prevent accidental drowning of kids
Prevent chapped knuckles from caused by detergent
Prevent water contamination caused by washing in rivers
Laundry can be done indoors or outdoors

Tell us a little about the manufacturing process?

Manufacturing process is rotational moulding, the material used is linear low-density polyurethane (LLDPE) the material is UV resistant, durable and impact resistance. I made the prototype using Tupperware containers, the base is made using MDF board, the agitator is a dowel stick and a compression spring. I tested the prototype at home .The challenges are wear and tear of the product.

How did you analyse the importance of functionality vs. aesthetics of your design?

The aesthetics were inspired by traditional maize beaters. The pot has a lid to prevent accidental drowning. The stick has a plunger at the end for agitating the clothing. The compression spring allows up/down and side/side motion. The base prevents the waterpot from tipping over whilst in use.

What do you hope to expect from your product?

Women and children in rural and informal settlements can have more time to look for employment and further studies as they will have more time on their hands. The waterpot will ease the burden of having to walk to rivers to wash the laundry. Improve the overall health of older users.

What’s next?

I want to manufacture the Waterpot and create jobs.

Mahlangu will be exhibiting the Water Pot concept and product at the 2016 Dubai Design Week Global Grad show which starts on 24 October. Design Indaba will be bringing you all the most inspiring and exciting content from the event, so keep an eye on our website for more.