Product Design Year 2 : Introduction

Brief : Water for all

Lighten the burden of water collection for women in developing countries.

The collection of water forms a significant part of the daily routine for most people in developing countries. According to the United Nations, sub-saharan Africa alone spends 40 billion hours a year collecting water (this equates to the entire annual workforce of France), and it is largely women who bear this responsibility. This collected water is used for not only drinking, but many basic everyday tasks including household cleaning, laundry, personal hygiene, growing crops, preparing food, caring for livestock, etc. This brief asks you to design a way to reduce the amount of time and effort women spend collecting water in developing countries.

Your response might be a new brand, product, service or even an entirely new business model. For the purposes of illustration only, the following would all be viable responses

The requirements for the product :

  • A service solution – such as a scheme that encourages and eases collecting water for others in a local community. How might people be encouraged to collect for others? How might communities share the load? In areas where currency is little-used, how could such behaviour be rewarded?
  • A system approach – such as a community- built water refill station. How might people obtain water? How might it be sustainably built and maintained? How would it fit within the local cultural environment?
  • A product/pack design that facilitates water rationing. How might low-income consumers get more out of the little water they have? How might it ease the task of carrying water for particular uses?
  • A new brand interpretation – taking an existing Unilever brand and re-imagining it for increased water efficiency
  • A behaviour change proposal – that reduces water use consumption. What are the different scenarios of water use? What opportunities are there for conserving water? How might the collection frequency be reduced?

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