Collapsible Water Containerchallenges-chat

Ensuring safe drinking water is an essential first response in any emergency situation. The collapsible water containers currently procured and distributed by UNICEF and our humanitarian cluster partners in emergencies are not easy or comfortable for families to use.

This project seeks to develop a new collapsible water container to improve the way people collect and store water, ultimately providing better access to safe water supplies and reducing water related diseases.

Traditional water carriers


Start Date: 2010-01


Focus Areas: , ,

Region: All

Country: All

Keywords: Jerry Can, Household water...


Identifying the User Needs

The container must carry 10L of water, and be collapsible and stackable for easy packing and transportation. The container must also be easy to use - including pouring, filling, storing and carrying water. Rigidity, durability, life cycle cost and sustainability are also very important issues for consideration.

Overview of Innovation Project

Who initiated the project?
The UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene community and the UNICEF Supply Division (SD) Water, Sanitation & Education Centre (WSEC).

Why this innovation approach?
The project is a continuation of a previous project where UNICEF SD collaborated Kaos Pilots, Kolding Design School and Danish Technical University (DTU) to develop concepts for the water container challenge.

What is the process?
UNICEF SD’s WSEC team worked with Promens Packaging GmbH and the DTU team to develop the design for an impoved, fit-for-purpose solution, addressing the user needs.  The new design will be field tested in direct comparison to existing water containers to determine which is preferred by the end user.

What are the cultural considerations?
Different cultures have different means of carrying filled water containers (e.g. some carry them on their heads while others carry them on their backs).  The field testing is taking this into account by testing in 4 different countries.  

Next steps
The water containers are currently being field tested in the following locations:

  • CAR (Central African Republic)
  • Haiti
  • Sudan
  • Afghanistan

Meet The Team

  • Hani El-Jadaa
    UNICEF Supply
    Supply Division, Copenhagen
    Contracts Manager / WASH Unit


Promens Packaging GmbH

The project team are working in partnership with Promens Packaging GmbH based in Ettlingen, Germany. Their skills and experience in design and manufacturing of plastic bottles and containers has led to our successfully partnering to develop the design and produce prototypes to be tested in CAR, Sudan, Afghanistan and Haiti. We will continue to work together to evaluate the solution through the testing phase.

Promens won the contract for design and development of the concept created by DTU students Nikolai Byskov and Jon Rasmussen.

Project Updates

Results of Field Test

Based on the feedback from field-testing in Afghanistan, CAR, Sudan, and Haiti, the new Jerry Can is being redesigned to better suit end-user needs.

Recommended changes

  1. Greater rigidity, particularly in countries where it is common practice to carry the Jerry Can on the head.
  2. A larger spout to reduce wastage when pumping water into the Jerry Can.
  3. Potential removal of the second handle, as this drags on the ground when a single child carries the Jerry Can.

Current Actions

  1. The size of the spout is being increased to 2 inches and will be a standard feature of the traditional Jerry Can available from September 2013.
  2. UNICEF, in partnership with Promens, is modifying the new model and developing a prototype which will be ready for field testing beginning between the third and fourth quarters.

Challenges Moving Forward

  1. Finding the balance between ease of shipping (less rigidity) and durability (more rigidity).
  2. Financial feasibility of the redesign, as it is estimated the price will rise due to the more complex manufacturing process.
  3. Creating a design for different end-users (head carriers and non-head carriers)

Updated June 2013

16 weeks 4 days ago by hschafer


Concept of the 'Jerry Can'


This is an open source concept of the 'Jerry Can' produced by the UNICEF Supply Division's WSEC project team.



Here is the first batch of prototypes received for in house testing. It was produced by the UNICEF Supply Division's WSEC project team.

Prototype Jerry Can

Current solution in UNICEF Supply Catalogue