Running across Australia for water in South Africa!

Running for Water – South African desert runner David Barnard to tackle Australia’s Big Red Run in support of the Hippo Roller

A marathon a day through Australia’s Simpson Desert. This 6-day desert race will be David’s ninth, and the sixth leg of his quest to complete one on all seven continents. For this project, Barnard aims to raise funds for the Hippo Roller, promote its work, and contribute to increased public understanding of water-related issues around the world.

JOHANNESBURG, Jun. 6, 2017

David Barnard has been participating in multi-stage desert foot races in remote parts of the world since 2010. From the Kalahari, Namib and Sahara Deserts in Africa, to the Gobi Desert in China, the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Grand Canyon in the United states, and the most extreme of them all, The Last Desert Race in 2014 in Antarctica, David is on a quest to complete one of these extreme desert races on all seven continents.

“My next desert race is the 250km Big Red Run from 24-29 June 2017 in the Simpson Desert in Australia. It will be my ninth multi-stage desert race, and the sixth leg of my quest to complete one of these races on all seven continents,” said Barnard.

“I enter these events both for the physical challenge associated with running self-supported through the deserts of the world, as well as to raise money and awareness for organisations at the forefront of responding to many of the key development challenges facing Africa,” he said.

For this project, Barnard aims to raise funds for the Hippo Roller, promote its work, and contribute to increased public understanding of water-related issues around the world.

Running for Water

Water is a precious resource, a source of life and the basis of all human activities, from drinking to washing to cultivating land and producing food necessary for sustenance. It is also a scarce resource, and its presence and availability is often taken for granted. South Africa is currently recovering from the worst drought in living memory.

Though the UN Sustainable Development Goals (launched in 2015) include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty, there remain more than 600 million people worldwide, many of them living in rural Africa, who are still without a safe water supply close to home.

As a result, they spend countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and carrying heavy buckets.

Figure 1: The 17 Global Goals for sustainable development. Access to clean water is one of them.

 Simple ideas. Changing lives.

Barnard said, “Fortunately, a unique South African invention makes it extremely easy to collect, move and store water in rural conditions – up to 5x more water than a single bucket, by simply rolling it along the ground.”

The Hippo Roller is a simple solution to millions of people living in areas without adequate access to water. Specifically designed to last many years in tough rural terrain, it enables them to transport up to 90 litres to their homes and gardens, making more water and time available for education, household tasks and food production.

Figure 2: The children of Hammanskraal using Hippo Rollers to collect water for their homes.

Youthzones, our future

It costs $125 to manufacture and distribute a Hippo Roller, and Barnard’s aim is to raise $6,250 (see: – the cost of manufacturing, and distributing 50 hippo rollers to needy communities in South Africa.

Whilst Imvubu Projects will take care of the manufacturing of the Hippo Rollers, it is the work done by Youthzones within communities, helping distribute the Hippo Rollers amongst the most needy, which really drives home the impact that access to clean, safe water can have.

Said Youthzones’ Schalk van Heerden, “We are delighted to continue our relationship with social enterprise, Hippo Roller. Working with Hippo Rollers has been a huge benefit to the Youthzones network as now water can be collected easily, without multiple trips to wells, in turn giving people energy and productivity!”

Said Barnard, “The impact of the Hippo Roller is real. It is immediate. And it changes the lives of millions of people. The world’s future and our lives depend on having enough clean, safe water. We need extraordinary commitment to ensure clean water for all.”

“Please join me on this journey and let’s make a difference in the lives on those that could benefit from better access to water with the Hippo Roller,” he said.


About David Barnard

Professionally David has more than 25 years’ executive and senior management experience in initiating and leading development programmes across Africa, with extensive expertise encompassing international development, advocacy, fundraising, corporate citizenship, civil society strengthening, policy, ICT4D and governance. He is passionate about applying information and communication technologies in support of social, economic and political development processes.

In addition, David is an extreme ultra-marathon athlete, dedicating his participation in multi-stage desert races to organisations working in response to key development issues in Africa.

To interview David Barnard about the Big Red Run and his Hippo Roller campaign:

David Barnard

Mobile: +27 (82) 870 8968

Skype: dbarnard23




Desert 2 Desert blog:



David will be available for pre-race interviews until the close of business on 19 June 2017.

He will be available for post-race interviews from 4 July 2017.

It is envisaged that distribution of the Hippo Rollers will take place on Mandela Day, 18 July 2017.

About the Big Red Run

The Big Red Run is Australia’s first and only 250km multi-day race. Run over 6 days, from Saturday 24th June through Thursday 29th June 2017, participants will run on a mixt of sand dunes, open gibber plains, clay flats, salt lakes and station tracks.

Day 1 – 42.195km, Birdsville Marathon

Day 2 – 42.195km, Adria Downs Marathon

Day 3 – 42.195km, Arpilindika Marathon

Day 4 – 31km, Sprigg Sprint

Day 5 –   84.39km, Mohan Marathon & Roseberth Marathon

Day 6 –   8km, Birdsville or Bust

About Hippo Roller (Imvubu Projects)

Imvubu Projects, which operates as a social enterprise (rather than as an non-profit entity), has been trading as Hippo Roller since 1997. It outsources manufacturing of the Hippo Roller to keep overheads to a minimum, and focuses its resources on securing corporate social investment, crowd-funding and individual donations, in order to donate Hippo Rollers to needy.

To date, Imvubu has distributed more than 50,000 Hippo Rollers to at least 25 countries, impacting the lives of millions of people.

Imvubu partners with local NGOs and community leaders familiar with identified communities and best positioned to identify individual beneficiaries with empathy and insight.

Hippo Roller contact:

Grant Gibbs

Mobile: +27 (82) 447 1848

Skype: grantgibbs




About Youthzones

Youthzones was started in 2009 as a 2010 World Cup Legacy project under the leadership of Roelf Meyer, with the LOC, Minister of Sport and Recreation and the Foundation for a Safe South Africa (FSSA) collaborating to touch the lives of young people by using football and skills development as a vehicle for transformation.

A sports and educational development project, Youthzones works with the poorest-of-the-poor in 43 of South Africa’s most-in-need communities. A flagship project of FSSA, Youthzones today supports more than 330 football and netball teams, across all nine provinces in South Africa, as well as in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Youthzones is about the youth doing it for themselves – giving them a chance to once again believe in themselves and to pursue their dreams.

Youthzones contact:

Schalk van Heerden

Mobile: +27 (82) 815 1224

Telephone: +27 (11) 485 2146



NPC Registration: 2009/014143/08 | NPO: 092-192 | PBO: 930033059

About The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If these Goals are met, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.
Clean, safe, accessible water for all is the most pressing issue of our world faces today. Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation affects people’s lives, livelihoods, food security, choices and future.