In the summer of 2016, the Fritz™ Water Vest team learned first-hand about the value and benefits of the water vest in two rural communities just north west of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic called El Toro and Mucha Agua. The Fritz™ Water Vest team partnered with The English Church East to test the product with the ultimate goal of improving its design, function, and value.
The hands-on experience allowed us to observe the challenges of daily water transportation and the opportunities that exist. Together, we asked 30 local community members of varying ages, family sizes, and physical ability to try the Fritz™ Water Vest for a period of two weeks while we closely monitored physical interaction.
We immediately recognized that water transportation was a serious issue and could even become treacherous at times, like needing to climb steep embankments while carrying heavy pails of water. We learned that river water makes children and families sick from bacteria and parasites. Boiling water for sanitation is a safety hazard within cramped kitchens and uses up precious cooking fuel. Alternatively, jugs of distilled water can cost up to 30% of a monthly household budget.
The Fritz™ Water Vest introduced new behaviors in personal water consumption while providing intuitive health and cost benefits:
Dispensing: When our testers hung the water vest above a door and fitted it with a hose, they could direct a pressurized water-flow where they needed it versus having to scoop water from a larger vessel.
Filtration: When a reusable Sawyer® Water Filter was attached to the water vest, people immediately understood the cost-saving value through the ability to potentially replace expensive distilled water delivery services.
Convenience: The Fritz™ Water Vest is a hands-free method of transporting water; making it more convenient for carrying other objects or tools. The Fritz Water Vest made it easier to transport water to perform tasks that are less water intensive and that don’t require a large bucket, like drinking, cooking, cleaning dishes and personal hygiene.
Another interesting takeaway we learned is that the water vest allowed children to take warm water baths. Most people take cold-water baths. But, our testers found they could warm the water in the transparent water vest with warm sunlight. Warm water baths for children help alleviate common cold symptoms and provide enhanced hygiene.
We’re grateful for the knowledge gained through this hands-on experience and the time spent by each of the community members to welcome the Fritz™ Water Vest solution in to their lives. The Fritz™ Water Vests we distributed have remained in El Toro and Mucha Agua for continued usage.
Article written by: Michael Robinson, Human-centered Design
Fritz™ Water Vest Team Member
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