Editorâ€™s note: International World Water Day is held annually on the 22nd of March to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. What first began as an initiative by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) has turned into a movement and a celebration of what it means to have access to clean, freshwater. To commemorate this day, we are sharing a first-hand experience our team had when they visited one of our freshwater partners in east Africa during the holidays.
Did you know that over 884 million people around the world still use unsafe drinking water and as a result, 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases? The health and economic impacts of this problem are immense. This is why creating innovative ways for improving access to clean water is so imperative in alleviated poverty globally. While in East Africa visiting some of our projects, we had the opportunity to visit one of our partners in Kenya who have created an innovative way to provide clean, safe drinking water.
Common Ground, located in the village of Kitale, Kenya have developed an innovative cost-effective product to filter water for families, schools, and small clinics to use. Using local materials and labor, the NGO manufactures the water filters and certifies local women as water-health specialists, training each woman about water borne illnesses. They learn and then teach others about the importance of treating water and about the care and maintenance of the filters. Upon certification these specialists meet with womenâ€™s groups, churches, and schools to educate their community on the health risks associated with water drawn from lakes, streams, cisterns, and shallow bore holes.
I always love learning about new innovations related to providing access to clean water since it addresses so many pressing issues facing the developing world. I hope to see this simple â€œtechnologyâ€ and model spread throughout Kenya and other parts of the developing world.
The brilliance about all of this is these filters are made everyday materialsâ€”sawdust and clay. The filters are a very simple design but because of the innovation of using sawdust with the ceramic holder, it is able to filter out 99% of harmful water-borne diseases. The sawdust is magical ingredient trapping the harmful particles during the filtration process. The container itself provides an easy to pour dispenser for families and children to share water from safely. As volunteers, we were all proud of our accomplishment that day making 10 filters, however we learned that the regular workers could produce about 28 filters in the same time! Weâ€™ve got to work on our production time for next year, for sure!
What I love about this impactful approach:
- Simple materials (clay & sawdust!) used to make water filters which last around 5 years
- Reduces potential lethal outcomes from water-borne diseases
- Offers an economic opportunity for the local women and benefits entire community
- Creates an effective model for disseminating public health education in a culturally relevant manner.
Through the support of Jolkona and other development organizations, you can fund the transport, packaging, and cost of the filter to vulnerable schools, orphanages, or clinics up to 8 hours away from the manufacturing plant. Each filter serves roughly 8-10 people so for just $100, you can provide 5 water filters serving an entire school, orphanage, or clinic and then find out which school or facility receives those filters. Each filter provides adequate filtration for about 5 years! You can give the gift of clean water by supporting this project: Provide Ceramic Clean Water Filters in Kenya.
- UNICEF/WHO. 2008.Â Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation.
- World Health Organization. 2008.Â Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health.