Production and distribution of water filters for poor families without access to clean drinking water. The development of a novel water filter that complies with WHO standards and is to be produced in Ethiopia and commercially marketed for less than 20 US dollars, offers a large part of the population of Ethiopia an affordable way to consume clean drinking water.
Ethiopia is blessed with thousands of miles of rivers. They rise in the green highlands and flow as a real lifeline through many dry areas. Even the Blue Nile gushes forth here. So it may come as a surprise that millions of Ethiopians have no access to drinking water. Although most Ethiopian families live barely more than half an hour’s walk from a murky river, they often spend two to six hours travelling on foot to bring reasonably drinkable water home. Often the water consumed is lacking in quality. This leads to illnesses, high costs for medication and not infrequently to death. Boiling water is not an option in many regions due to the lack or high cost of firewood.
The Ethiopian Government has taken up this challenge and set itself the goal of providing one third of all households with the opportunity to prepare their water at home by 2020. This represents millions of households. Although 2020 is only two years away, there is still no locally made technology that could even begin to solve the problem. Biosand water filters are produced locally, but do not clean well enough, and in addition, only about 3,000 filters are produced per year (with 7,000 births per day nationwide!). Because the country has a chronic foreign currency shortage, importation is not a solution. Imported products are significantly more expensive and can only be repaired locally with difficulty.
Since 2011, Desert Rose Consultancy, a social enterprise registered in Ethiopia, has focused on clean drinking water in Ethiopia. Thanks to intensive research, patience, countless trials and regular setbacks, we have succeeded in developing a product that can handle all these challenges. The “Minch Household Water Filter” is manufactured locally, cleans better than conventional biosand water filters, and is on a par with more expensive filters produced abroad (99.98 % of all dangerous bacteria are eliminated), also cleans murky river water and can be bought for less than 20 US dollars (as much as a farmer can spend on it). Compared to other filters, our filter also features an internal 15-litre water reservoir protected against external contamination – a feature that avoids storage in containers that are often contaminated.
Furthermore, the international fund “Innovations against Poverty” has selected our filter project as one of six – out of 700 submitted projects – to be “worthy of support”.
The government tested the filter and gave us the green light. We are about to subject the filter to a final major endurance test and then we can start production. What we still lack is sufficient capital outlay to build up the production facility. First orders from international organizations have already been confirmed.
Thanks to your support, we will also be able to overcome this hurdle to ensure that a third of Ethiopian households will drink clean water by 2020. Are you there?
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