International (MNN) — Today is World Water Day, a day set
aside by the United Nations to work on solutions to safe drinking water.
Recent reports note that more than 10 million people – half
of them children and teens – die annually from diseases due to unsafe drinking
water; in developing countries, 70 percent of poor people lack access to
treated water. That adds up to at least 1.3
billion people around the world don't have access.
International Aid's Myles Fish says they've just launched
their response. "We have gotten the
rights to make this technology out of plastic. It only weighs seven pounds and
we're able to mass produce them in large volumes. We're excited about it because we think that
this new addition of the BioSand water filter is going to enable us to have a
far greater distribution that we could have ever had with the cement
International Aid's new filter was developed in
collaboration with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cascade Engineering. The existing filter, invented by David Manz,
Ph.D., of the University of Calgary, Canada, is made of concrete and typically
weighs more than 300 pounds.
How does it work?
According to International Aid, the BioSand method removes pathogens
from water through a combination of biological and mechanical processes.
The filter itself comprises a plastic container enclosing layers of sand and
gravel, including a surface layer of sand that is infused with
bacteria-consuming micro-organisms during the filter's initial
Water is poured into the top of the filter as needed, where
the first, biological layer consumes pathogens before the water travels through
the additional layers of sand and gravel. As it collects at the base of
the filter, the water is propelled out of the filter through plastic piping
attached to the unit's exterior.
International Aid's plastic version of the filter makes it
far easier to transport and distribute in rural areas and remote
locations. It also makes the filter much
more affordable, which means more of them will be used in partnership with
existing community health development project partners.
Aside from the distribution of the filters, there are plans
for providing education to help communities change their behaviors through
improved hygiene instruction and providing prescription drugs to treat
In addition, International Aid intends to help create
indirect social benefits from its water program by fostering local
micro-businesses dedicated to the water filter's ongoing operation and maintenance.
Fish says these projects give credibility to ministry work.
"If you have church planters or other kinds of missionaries that go into
communities and help address an obvious health issue, like diarrhea, by
providing an inexpensive home-based water filter, it gives you that first step
in building the kind of relationship that's necessary, so that you've earned
the right to be heard when you start talking about who we are in Christ and
what Christ means to us."