Water Filters

Old Technology, New Hope

What is the value of potable water?

In the developed world, we take clean water for granted. For most people in the world, clean water is scarce. In Bawa, the health and happiness of mothers and children revolve around whether or not potable water is available.

Diarrheal diseases kill more children in the world than anything else. Mothers spend much of their energy caring for these sick, dehydrated children  — and are desperate to remain healthy themselves.

What if they could avoid waterborne illness?
What impact might that have on their daily lives?
On their future?

The people of Bawa get the majority of their water from a series of streams that run through the village. Before reaching the water holes, these streams run by several compounds and even through other villages and as a result are heavily contaminated by human feces. This fecal contamination is exacerbated by the fact there was no sanitation system in Bawa or surrounding villages.

A 2006 village survey revealed malaria and diarrheal diseases to be among the greatest health problems in the village. Over 50% of parents indicated that at least one of their children had been afflicted with malaria within the preceding two weeks. Records at the nearest government-operated health clinic indicated that 80% of all hospitalizations from Bawa were a result of malaria or diarrheal disease.

In order to remediate health related problems associated with fecally contaminated water, BHI used the CAWST  model to install and implement 100 biosand water filters (BSFs) in each household in the villages of Bawa and Nloh. Water filters are also being installed in Bawa Nka. The BSF is an in home filtration unit that is a modification of traditional slow sand filtration that has been used for centuries. They can be made and maintained with local labor and materials. When used properly, the BSF has been reported to be extremely effective in removing water borne pathogens and in reducing the probability of diarrheal diseases. BSFs were installed in each compound in Bawa during the summer and fall of 2006 and BSFs were installed in each compound in Nloh during the summer and fall of 2007, subsequent to the 2007 survey of waterborne protozoan parasites. In addition to the use of BSFs, the village health committees of Bawa and Nloh conduct on going education for the villagers concerning the proper use of BSFs and basic matters of sanitation and hygiene.

A survey of the prevalences of water borne protozoans in Nloh revealed a marked decreased in prevalence in Nloh following the implementation of the BSF program; however, control of amebiasis in Bawa may also depend more heavily upon improved sanitation than water filtration.

Currently a sanitation program, SOIL is being implemented in Bawa, Nloh, and Bawa Nka that should greatly impact the prevalence of both water-borne diseases and intestinal worm infections.