In 2017 660 million people remain without sustainable access to safe drinking water . The majority of these are in rural areas with little hope in the foreseeable future of access to distributed treated water systems. Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a household water treatment using solar energy to inactivate pathogens in water stored in transparent containers placed in direct sunlight. SODIS is used by approximately 5 million people in developing countries daily , but uptake is slowing. The WATERSPOUTT project aims to increase user uptake of SODIS by designing, piloting and manufacturing technologies including solar jerry cans and solar-ceramic filtration. These are being designed in a multi-disciplinary collaboration between designers, engineers, health and social scientists and end users in Europe and Africa. This is achieved through co-design activities, context analysis and stakeholder dialogue workshops which aim to ensure that product designs meet both the technical and social needs of the more than 100 million potential end users in Africa. Examples of student design work highlight the importance of this shared dialogue and changes in design thinking that are evolving through the co-design approach. Through producing designs which are readily accepted and widely adopted in the case study communities, this paper addresses issues relevant to the topics of social issues in design education and new design education paradigms. It also addresses the wider theme of building community: design education for a sustainable future by showing how transdisciplinary approaches can ensure community engagement and design adoption.