One of the most important factor to consider during designing a product is : user, and one the most common user is human. When it comes to humans nothing is simple , we need to consider not only their physiology but also behavior , cultural background and psychology. Hence , fixing a user group is very important.
Based on my research till now and all the context I have considered ,my user group is female and people above 40. I decided to focus on Indian semi urban or low income households.Many parts of India face water scarcity and most of them are rural or semi urban areas. It is in these parts people have to travel distances for water or need to store it along with other household chores. I also believe a product designed for this situation will work in urban household as well.
I focused on women specifically , as traditionally women are tasked with fetching water . And therefore a product tailored to their need will help immensely. Here is an article I came across that helped me relate it to the current issue of COVID 19, and also the ever pressing issue of water scarcity. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/hand-washing-can-combat-coronavirus-but-can-the-rural-poor-afford-frequent-rinses/
But what do I mean when I say semi urban areas,these are the areas located at the outskirsts of a big fancy city, like Sitapuri in Delhi. Usually , these areas are occupied by middle to low income households. Our government defines a area into urban , semi urban or rural on the basis of populations . But there is a large difference also in terms of lifestyle and facilities too. Basic facilities like water are often scarce in these areas as governments are manly focused on the large city dwellings. Many areas in UP no. of households share a common tap. These factors give rise to a need to store water .
Here , I tried to put myself in chappals of these women to empathize with their problems. Most often than not these women are working , they take up small jobs in the nearing areas or help in their family business , all these while managing a house .So , any normal day would begin with rising earlier than most people in the house to fetch water , now this can be because of two reasons first and most likely the public water source is time bound i.e. the water supply is available for a specific time, secondly , my family would need water as soon as they wake up also I’m a working woman so have to be at the place of work after completing my household chores on time.Not only it is a race against time but sometimes my neighbors as well, to avoid standing last in that long queue.Complaints aside this is also a time of day to talk with them, this ensures a certain level of bonding. Also walking back with at least two vessels full of water in a saree must be a challenge in itself.
Although , I tried my best to empathize with them , there are still many unanswered questions like
- Do they still go to fetch water , while menstruating?
- What is the alternate source , in case the water fetched is contaminated or spilled?
- What is the minimum quantity needed , during COVID 19 while hand washing is essential?
- How often the utensil used is cleaned ?
- Do they process water to ensure it is clean before using?
- What if the source is in the house but , still time bound?
- How is the path to the water source?
- What is the nature of the water source(bore well, well,hand pump, tap , tanker)
One thing I realized is that people buy special utensils for this task of fetching water, like this plastic matka . This matka is just for fetching and storing water , as it is light weight , easy to carry and reduce spill.