As a part of the Better Living Challenge one of our finalists, the EKASI Water Cap, was recently put to the test in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Designed by UCT engineering graduates, Peter Krige and Alex du Preez, the EKASI Water Cap is a 3D-printed closure that can be fitted onto a variety of low-cost plastic water containers that informal settlement residents often use to collect and store water in their homes. Acting as a pressure-tight closure, the device transforms locally available parts – a jerry can, plastic piping and a bicycle pump – into a portable, pressurised shower unit.
Khayelitsha provides an ideal site for the testing of this product due to the dire lack of direct water supply and sanitation in households in the area. Water to be used for drinking, cleaning and washing is collected from community street taps, which are located along the streets of Khayelitsha. Each tap provides water to a minimum of 20 homes. Understandably, these circumstances are a daily challenge for Khayelitsha residents and the benefits of the EKASI Water Cap open up a world of possibilities, where pressurised water can make a considerable difference in basic activities.
This savvy device was recently introduced to Khayelitsha community members at a workshop facilitated by EKASI Water Cap representative, Camila Gilman, together with the Better Living Challenge’s own representative, Ansi Gilfillan of Think: Inn. The demonstration showed how a seemingly ordinary water container could be transformed into a showering device via the use of an EKASI Water Cap. The demonstration was fittingly conducted on a scorching hot summer’s day and thus drew an instant and lively response from local children!
Clearly illustrating the benefits this product offers, the demonstration had an immediate impact on adult audience members as well. The standard bathing method currently used in many low-income homes involves the use of a steel basin and plastic jug. It is a process which is time consuming and cumbersome. The lack of water drainage facilities similarly complicates matters and can lead to flooding and hygiene issues. The contrast between this and the greater efficiency and ease offered by the EKASI Water Cap is stark, and can only be seen as highlighting a new way forward. This was reflected in the immensely positive community feedback received at the workshop with many participants wanting to purchase the product right away!
Workshops such as these serve not only to inform community members, but are also an immensely valuable means by which the designers are able to incorporate user feedback into the design process. In adopting an in-depth and human-centered approach to design, Krige and du Preez continually work to ensure that their product designs evolve according to the needs of users. Initial user-testing in 2014 resulted in modifications to the EKASI Water Cap prototype in order to create a more user-friendly experience. This works hand-in-hand with the aims of the Better Living Challenge and showcases the exciting potential there is in collaborative design strategies.
Krige had this to say about the experience: “The workshop in March where we presented the Ekasi Water Cap to a group of 25 people in Khayelitsha was fantastic as we got to demonstrate the product in front of our user group and get direct and honest feedback. We also got to gauge interest based on their enthusiasm and initial reactions to the concept. All very positive thus far, which is encouraging!”
Further testing of the EKASI Water Cap will be conducted at the Imizamo Yethu Educare Centre, which is run by Nomzamo Nkolisa. Nkolisa has previously worked with the Better Living Challenge in a trial for the Lovely Loo. Nomzamo has 54 children currently in her care and these numbers ensure that the EKASI Water Cap will be put to good use. The trial will last for six months and the Better Living Challenge eagerly awaits the results in order to move forward with this remarkable product.