The fact that unsafe water kills more people each year than all forms of violence (including war) is appalling. But the fact that there are plenty of affordable and effective water treatment solutions makes these deaths a tragedy.
One of the challenges of eradicating waterborne illness in the developing world is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works well in one community isn’t going to be appropriate in another. Take CTI’s water chlorinator, for instance. Our chlorinator is designed to provide safe water for a community; it attaches to a gravity-fed water source that an entire village obtains its water from, like a water tank. In Nicaragua, where community water tanks are common, CTI Water Chlorinators provide safe water to over 150,000 people. But there are many parts of the world where families obtain water from less centralized sources, like nearby streams or lakes. For these families, CTI’s Water Chlorinator isn’t going to be much help.
In search of a small-scale water solution
To help individual families treat their water, CTI is exploring a smaller-scale water filtration system that can provide safe water for 8-10 people and meet the following criteria:
- Does not require electricity
- Must produce safe drinking water within 2 hours
- Must produce a minimum of 15 gallons per day
- Must be certified as to its efficacy against waterborne pathogens
- Must be easy to clean
We aren’t seeking to reinvent the wheel, so CTI’s water team has researched numerous technologies on the market that either meet the above criteria, or can be adapted. We’ve narrowed our focus on the Sawyer Water filter. We like the filter because it’s very affordable and it works exceptionally. Like most water treatment technologies, the filter does require occasional cleaning. Without cleaning, the water’s flow rate begins to decrease over time as the filter collects contaminates. In order to make the system easier for families to clean, we’ve permanently connected a backflush device that returns the filter to its optimal flow rate.
Field Testing in Senegal and Nicaragua
Two Prototype units are currently being field tested in Nicaragua and Senegal for flow capacity and ease of use. Thus far, feedback on performance has been consistently excellent. Users have reported the prototypes are effective, intuitive to use, and their rate of output is quite satisfactory. If the initial field tests continue to go well, CTI will likely explore wider distribution of the systems.