Water crisis in Mongolia
Despite its vast expanse of land and natural resources, Mongolia has been facing a severe shortage of water since 2014. Hundreds of Mongolian lakes have dried up in recent years, and much of the southern land has experienced desertification. The remaining water sources are concentrated in northern Mongolia, leaving people in central and southern Mongolia unable to easily access water. Citizens of these areas must rely on groundwater to combat the issue of water scarcity.

Water quality is also a concern: many northern Mongolians live in rural settings without access to basic water supply infrastructure. In a 2013 survey, the Asia Foundation found that most rural Mongolians acquire half of their water from unprotected sources, such as lakes and rivers that lack modern water purification methods. The survey also found that most unprotected sources of water are susceptible to high levels of contamination from human waste, livestock and seasonal flooding. In the midst of this water crisis, two organizations have shown interest in aiding those without access to clean drinking water.

Aid from The Millennium Challenge Corp

One organization that has provided aid during the water crisis in Mongolia is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The MCC provided a $350 million investment as part of the Mongolia Water Compact, signed in 2018, to supply the country with more water and improve water infrastructure throughout the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian government matched this investment with a $111.8 million investment to improve water purification, increase wastewater recycling and implement policies within the Mongolian government to sustain this new infrastructure. The MCC predicts that this investment will increase water supply in Mongolia’s capital city by more than 80 percent.

Tetra Tech’s Initiative

Another company working to solve the water crisis in Mongolia is Tetra Tech, an engineering services firm that specializes in water and infrastructure.  The most recent contract between Tetra Tech and Mongolia, drafted by the aforementioned Millennium Challenge Corp, grants Tetra Tech 30 million dollars for a water supply project that hopes to increase bulk water supply throughout the country and meet the growing demand in Ulaanbaatar. With this new budget, Tetra Tech hopes to install new groundwater wells, oversee a new wastewater recycling plant and manage a new water purification plant in Ulaanbaatar.

Ending the Water Crisis in Mongolia

The MCC’s generous investment combined with Tetra Tech’s experience with water supply and purification will help combat the water crisis in Mongolia. With an extended budget, Tetra Tech will have ample money to provide structurally sound purification and wastewater recycling plants for 80 percent of Mongolian citizens. As these organizations continue to make progress in this ambitious initiative, Mongolia works toward resolving the water crisis.

– Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty In Eritrea

Eritrea is a small northeastern country in Africa, surrounded by the larger Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan. It is home to nearly 5.4 million individuals, of which, about 65 percent live in poverty. Eritrea‘s harsh history coupled with its low rates of development has contributed to the poor economic conditions that oppress so many. This article will provide nine facts about poverty in Eritrea which will give reason to the concerns raised by international organizations.

9 Facts About Poverty in Eritrea

  1. A tumultuous history with Ethiopia: After a 30-year war with Ethiopia, Eritrea finally gained independence in 1991. It was not until 1993, however, that this separation was legitimized. Eritrean citizens were historically neglected under Ethiopian rule. Many were deprived of their nation’s resources and abandoned on the pathway to development.
  2. Cultural superstitions prevent sanitary practices: According to UNICEF, persistent cultural beliefs hinder many Eritreans from collecting clean water, washing their hands and disposing of animal products properly. Many believe that evil spirits are attached to certain animal parts while other customs prohibit the use of latrines during certain hours of the day.
  3. Limited access to clean water for rural Eritreans: Very few villages in rural Eritrea have access to clean water. In fact, as of 2015, only 48.6 percent of the rural population had access to improved water sources compared to 93.1 percent in urban areas. As a result, many drink from the same water source as animals. In addition, many communities do not have a local latrine due to a lack of financial resources. Sewage systems also contaminate water sources that would otherwise be feasible options. These issues can lead to numerous diseases such as schitosmiasis, giardriasis and diarrhea.
  4. Challenges in agriculture: While nearly 80 percent of the Eritrean population works in agriculture, this sector only makes up about 13 percent of the nation’s GDP. Landscapes in Eritrea are naturally rocky and dry. This makes farming a difficult task even in the best weather conditions. During the most fruitful periods, domestic agriculture production still only feeds 60 to 70 percent of the population.
  5. Susceptibility to drought: When drought does strike northeast Africa, Eritrea is one of the countries that experiences the greatest blow. Months can pass in the Horn of Africa without rainfall and these episodes are frequent and recurrent. This results in food shortages and increased rates of malnourishment among children. Statistics show that malnutrition has been increasing throughout Eritrea as nearly 22,700 children under the age of 5 suffer from the condition. Plans have already been crafted as an acknowledgment of the crisis, one being the African Development Bank’s Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihood Programme for 2015-2021. For this, the Eritrean government has agreed to reserve $17 million to administer solutions for drought effects in rural communities.
  6. Many children are out of school: Public education in Eritrea is inconsistent across the nation. Children living in rural areas or with nomadic families do not have access to quality education like those living in urban regions. Overall, 27.7 percent of Eritrean children do not attend school.
  7. Low HDI: Recently, GDP in Eritrea has been growing. This can be attributed to the recent cultivation of the Bisha mine, which has contributed a considerable amount of zinc, gold and copper to the international economy. Even so, Eritrea’s Human Development Index is only at 0.351. The country is far behind other sub-Saharan nations, whose average is calculated at 0.475.
  8. Violence at the southern border: The central government has created large holes in the federal deficit in its preoccupation with Ethiopia. While the countries officially separated in 1993, discontent with the line of demarcation has left them in a state of “no war, no peace.” The Eritrean government sees the stalemate with Ethiopia as a primary concern, and the military forces needed to guard their territory has occupied most of the nation’s resources.
  9. High rates of migration: These realities listed above have encouraged much of the Eritrean population to flee the country. Eritrea is the African country with the highest number of migrants. Furthermore, the journey to Europe is a dangerous one, as the pathway through the central Mediterranean is highly laborious.

Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

 

 

10 Facts about Sanitation in China
China has experienced record levels of growth since its 1979 free-market reforms. The Chinese people have seen impressive growth in standards of living and modernization over that time. As a part of these developments, China’s overall sanitation levels have also increased, however, there is still work that the country can do. Here are 10 facts about sanitation levels in China.

10 Facts About Sanitation in China

  1. In 2017, China launched 8,000 water cleanup projects. China launched these projects as a part of a massive effort to clean polluted rivers, lakes and groundwater sites. Examples of these projects include making land off-limits to livestock and poultry farms and the creation of 809 new water sanitation plants. Additional projects involve the appointment of river chiefs as a way to hold political officials accountable to the clean water plans.
  2. In 2008, Chinese students helped create a new system to filter water. During the modernization of China, the Huai river became extremely polluted and the water undrinkable. To solve the problem, China developed a new three-step process to decontaminate the water. Since China’s implementation of the new biological water purification system in 2008, health along the river improved greatly. The system has won multiple awards including one from the World Bank for sustainable development.
  3. China has experienced a toilet revolution in recent years. These new toilets aim to achieve many purposes in China including meeting the concerns of tourists, but ultimately it will sanitation in Chinese cities. The toilets also reduce the amount of waste going into the public sewage system. Additionally, these toilets create a more sanitary environment in households.
  4. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a toilet expo in China. In 2018, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a reinvented toilet expo in Beijing. The Foundation presented many different sanitation solutions to minimize pathogens and convert waste to fertilizers. One of the goals of the event was to reduce the deaths of children under the age of 5, due to unsafe sanitation conditions.
  5. UNICEF provides rural communities education on proper sanitation. UNICEF teaches the Community Approach to Total Sanitation. This promotes proper hygiene practices, such as hand-washing and how to design affordable latrines. The organization also continues to research ways to help improve rural sanitation in China.
  6. A French company, Veolia, has multiple contracts to help improve sanitation. Veolia has contracts in China to treat hazardous waste, operate water treatment plants and is looking to develop plastic recycling plants. The company sees this as both an opportunity for it to make a profit due to Chinese incentives, and also to improve sanitation conditions.
  7. Pepsi donated to help improve water conditions in China. In 2018, Pepsi donated $2 million to China’s Women Development Foundation as a part of the Water Cellars for Women program. It hopes the money will improve water conditions in the Danjiangkou reservoir. This donation also has the potential to provide water to over 10 million people.
  8. Since 1990, 37 percent of China gained access to improved drinking water. The massive gains are the results of efforts by private organizations, as well as the Chinese government. The additional 37 percent means that over 76 percent of the Chinese population has access to clean water.
  9. A city in China will open the world’s largest waste to energy plant in 2020. The facility in Shenzhen, China has been in development since 2017. This facility is finally close to becoming operational. The plant will turn more than 5,000 tons of garbage into energy a day. Additionally, the plant will also serve as a way to educate the citizens on trash disposal.
  10. China has massive plans for trash sorting. In China, 46 cities must now sort their trash. By sorting their trash, they are helping to reduce food waste, as well as create more sanitary conditions for trash disposal.

China is a country of over 1.6 billion people. A population this large creates a lot of waste and potentially unsanitary conditions. However, through a combination of water treatment plans, waste management programs and an increase in public awareness, China is fighting to create sanitary conditions throughout the entire country. These 10 facts about sanitation in China demonstrate the progress that China has made.

Josh Fritzjunker
Photo: Flickr

Children in Urban Poverty
Children who drink unclean water or expose themselves to poor sanitation and hygiene face seriously heightened health risks. Young children are the first to get sick and die from waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and malaria. Out of the 2.2 million diarrheal deaths each year, the majority are children under the age of five. In areas with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation, children are also at risk for parasitic illnesses such as guinea worm and trachoma. Health outcomes range from child weakness to blindness and death. Poor hygiene increases the likelihood of these diseases and this occurs frequently among children in urban poverty.

Splash

Splash emerged in 2007 to bring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs to children in urban poverty around the world. Splash’s 1,779 program sites in schools, orphanages, hospitals and shelters support over 400,000 kids every day in eight countries. This includes Nepal (101,149 kids), China (84,234), Ethiopia (73,622), Cambodia (71,234), India (49,404), Bangladesh (20,603), Thailand (10,385) and Vietnam (18,365).

Splash focuses on harnessing the technology, infrastructure and supply chains already in use in large cities for solutions that serve the poor. The nonprofit’s founder, Eric Stowe, saw that hotels and restaurants had access to clean water, but the children in poor schools and orphanages across the street did not. Stowe saw this as an easy problem to fix by leveraging the existing economies and infrastructure.

Safe Water

Everything Splash does begins with ensuring access to safe water. Its water purification system removes 99.9999 percent of bacterial pathogens. Splash has the water regularly checked for quality which has reduced costs and maintained reliability. Splash’s point-of-use filtration is much more cost-effective and durable than typical approaches. Well-digging projects are often expensive, time-consuming and do not always work for urban areas. Additionally, Splash’s stainless steel taps last infinitely longer than plastic ones.  This approach to clean water is very sustainable. No new chemicals add to the environment and people reuse contaminated water in a gray water system.

Hygiene Education and Behavioral Change

Splash believes it is not enough for a child to drink safe water. It also encourages long-term behavioral change and improved hygiene through student hygiene clubs, child-to-child training and school events. It provides hygiene training for teachers and conducts soap drives at every school. Five-hundred and forty schools have received hygiene education, hygiene education has impacted 328,666 kids and people have donated 145,241 bars of soap.

In addition to installing high-quality filtration systems, Splash provides colorful, child-friendly drinking and handwashing stations that have been field-tested to make sure kids are excited to use them. Often children in urban poverty must drink and wash their hands from the same spigot; however, Splash separates drinking fountains and hand-washing taps to reduce the risk of water re-contamination. Splash uses fun, kid-centered learning materials to teach kids how to properly wash their hands with soap and develop good personal hygiene.

Improved Sanitation

By leveraging the clean water supply chain, Splash works to improve bathrooms in public schools to meet global standards for safety, privacy, cleanliness and accessibility. It ensures safe and secure toilets, water for flushing, gender-segregated toilets and bins for menstrual hygiene management. So far, Splash has reached 48,802 children in urban poverty in Ethiopia, Nepal and India with improved sanitation through 91 sites. Mirrors, colorful facilities and information are helping to motivate behavioral change and encourage proper toilet use by girls and boys.

Goals for the Future

Splash is a unique nonprofit because it aims to become “irrelevant”, “obsolete” and “unnecessary” by 2030.  Just as everything begins with clean water, Splash aims to complete all projects with a sustainable and strategic exit.

The ultimate goal is ensuring local success on its own time, its own terms, through its own talent and with its own funding. This is why Splash designs each program to have local roots, and be economically stable and enduring. It intends the solutions to live on as the ownership transitions from Splash staff to local owners.

As of 2016, Splash was on track for each of its ambitious goals. This includes WASH program coverage for all 650 public schools in Kathmandu, Nepal by 2020 and all 400 public schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by 2022.

Splash is a great example of a forward-thinking international nonprofit with a clear vision to develop long-lasting WASH solutions for children in urban poverty. The world requires lots of work to ensure affordable and clean water, sanitation and hygiene for the urban poor, but organizations like Splash are making progress.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

Water bottle companies that give backOne of the most valuable resources people struggle to obtain is safe drinking water. According to the CDC, more than 2.5 billion people lack access to fresh and clean water — that’s more than 35 percent of the world’s total population. Fortunately, many water bottle companies have committed to the cause by giving a percentage of sales to charities that help supply water to people in need. Here are 10 water bottle brands that give back to people in need across the globe.

10 Water Bottle Brands that Give Back

  1. Drinkfinity- Drinkfinity is a monthly subscription box that contains a “Vessel” and a variety of flavored “Pods”. The Pods are composed of dry and liquid ingredients, which fills up a 20oz bottle when the Pod is popped. Drinkfinity’s mission is to reduce plastic waste and create a product with the “smallest possible environmental footprint”.  They have partnered with Water.org, a nonprofit organization that supplies developing countries with safe water. Through this partnership, Drinkfinity vows to donate 1 percent of every purchase to help reduce the global water crisis.
  2. d.stil– Chef’n, a company based in Seattle, Washington founded d.stil as away to give its functional and fashionable designs a bigger purpose. The bottle can be found in Targets across the country. With every bottle sold, d.stil donates 1 percent of the proceeds to Water.org. Through this partnership, d.stil hopes to fulfill their mission- “hydration with a purpose”.
  3. memobottle- Jesse Leeworthy and Jonathan Byrt founded memobottle after witnessing the damaging effects plastic water bottles have on the oceans and the environment. Memobottle’s reusable and unique flat design makes it easy to store water in a bag beside valuables. With every memobottle sold, one person receives two months of clean drinking water. To date, memobottle has supplied nearly six million days of clean drinking water.
  4. Bota- Bota is a stylish backpack that contains a hydration pack, which has the storage capacity of up to three water bottles. The founders, Alexa and Katie, hope their product will help reduce the number of plastic water bottles sold. Bota has partnered with Water.org and pledged to supply over 3.5 years of safe water to a person in a developing country each time the hashtag #letsbota is used alongside a photo of their backpack.
  5. ÖKO- ÖKO applies NASA technology to a water bottle by utilizing a three-layer filtration system. With a replaceable filter, ÖKO guarantees that each sip is safe and clean. ÖKO is BPA-free and Phthalate-free. The company donates $.50 from each water bottle sale online.
  6. Copper H2O- Copper H2O is a lightweight, hammered copper water bottle. This water bottle is handcrafted to increase the surface area of copper that comes in contact with the water. The website claims that there are many health benefits to drinking copper infused water which is known as Tamra Jal in Ayurvedic medicine. Copper H2O donates 15 percent of its profits to several nonprofit organizations that strive to provide developing countries with clean drinking water.
  7. blk. Water- blk. is a company dedicated to personal health and fitness. Through its water bottle line, blk. Water, blk. has partnered up with Water.org to help communities in developing countries access to clean water. With each purchase, a percentage of the sale will go towards Water.org and their global initiative.
  8. Love Bottle- Love Bottle was founded by Minna Yoo, who has a strong passion for health and love. After all, its logo is a heart, embedded in each of the bottles to encourage others to spread the love. The Love Bottles are made in the U.S., but its purpose reaches far across the globe. With a passion for helping others, Love Bottle donates 5 percent of its gross profits to charity: water, a nonprofit organization that supplies drinking water to developing countries.
  9. Corkcicle- Corkcicle was founded in 2010 when the creators wondered how to keep a glass of wine cool. Though its products were originally intended for wine, Corkcicle drinkware is perfect for any beverage. Corkcicle has partnered up with charity: water and will donate 5 percent of each purchase.
  10. Lifestraw- Despite its name, Lifestraw sells more than just straws. Lifestraw started out with a groundbreaking and lifesaving filtration system that can filter out bacteria, chemicals and other harmful elements. Lifestraw has now developed an array of products that will benefit people around the world. With each purchase, a school child receives clean water for the whole school year. Through the company’s humanitarian efforts, Lifestraw also participates in aiding those affected by natural disasters.

As more people are made aware of water crises in developing countries, both small and large, the list of water bottle brands that give back continues to grow. While those who purchase from these water bottle companies receive a portable and reusable container, across the globe, families in need receive something much more precious.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

10 International Issues to WatchWith the world always changing, there are some issues that remain constant. Some of these issues are directly related to poverty while other events increase the likelihood of creating impoverished communities. Here are 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.

10 International Issues to Watch

  1. Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa
    The good news is that global poverty rates have been dropping since the turn of the century. Nevertheless, there is still work that needs to be done. Approximately 10 percent of people in developing areas live on less than $2 per day. Poverty rates have declined in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but more than 40 percent of residents of sub-Saharan Africa still live below the poverty line.
  2. Lack of Access to Clean Water
    There are more than 2 billion people in the world who cannot access clean water in their own homes. Lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of contracting illnesses. When people get sick, they have to spend money on medicine, which can cause families to fall into extreme poverty. In other cases, people have to travel extremely far to collect clean water. Altogether, women and girls spend approximately 200 million hours walking to get water daily. Access to clean water is one of the 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.
  3. Food Security
    By 2050, the world will need to feed 9 billion people, but there will be a 60 percent greater food demand than there is today. Thus, the United Nations is taking steps to address the problem. The U.N. has set improving food security, improving sustainable agriculture and ending hunger as some of their primary focuses by the year 2030. The U.N. must address a wide range of issues to combat these problems. These issues include gender parity, global warming and aging populations.
  4. Improving Education
    Most impoverished communities around the world lack a solid education system. Some common barriers include families being unable to afford school, children having to work to support their family and the undervaluing of girls’ education. UNESCO estimates more than 170 million people could be lifted out of poverty if they had basic reading skills.
  5. Limited Access to Jobs
    In rural and developing communities around the world, there is often limited access to job opportunities. There is a multitude of factors that can lead to a lack of adequate work or even no opportunities at all. Two common roadblocks are a lack of access to land and a limit of resources due to overexploitation. It is obvious that no available means to make money ensures that a family cannot survive without outside help.
  6. Limiting Global Conflict
    When conflict occurs, it impacts the poor the hardest. Social welfare type programs are drained, rural infrastructure may be destroyed in conflict zones and security personnel moves into urban areas, leaving smaller communities behind. At the state level, impoverished communities have lower resilience to conflict because they may not have strong government institutions. Poverty and conflict correlate strongly with one another.
  7. Gender Equality
    From a financial standpoint, gender equality is vital to improving the world economy. The World Economic Forum states that it would take another 118 years to achieve a gender-neutral economy. In 2015, the average male made $10 thousand more a year than their female counterparts. However, there has been an increased amount of awareness on the issue that may lead to an improved economy for all.
  8. Defending Human Rights
    In 2018, the world saw a decline in global freedom. However, over the last 12 consecutive years, global freedom rights have decreased. More than 70 countries have experienced a decline in political and civil liberties. However, in 2019, steps are being taken to limit this problem. At the International Conference on Population and Development, there will be a focus on human rights. France will also align its G-7 efforts at limiting a variety of inequalities.
  9. Responding to Humanitarian Crises
    The 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview shows a large number of humanitarian crises around the world. Between Syria, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are more than 19 million internally displaced people. In 2019, approximately 132 million people have needed humanitarian help, costing the world economy almost $22 billion.
  10. Climate Change
    From a scientific standpoint, the land temperature has increased by 1 degree C. in the last half decade, and greenhouse gas emissions have risen to their highest levels in more than 800,000 years. This has led to increased storms and droughts throughout the world. In the last 39 years, weather-related economic loss events have tripled.

Even though the world still has many issues to address, progress is being made in a variety of areas that may help limit global poverty. These are but 10 international issues to watch in relation to global poverty. The global awareness of poverty-related issues is something that continues to be extremely important for the advancement of our world.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Google Images

PortaPure

The company PortaPure began research on water filtration systems after a massive hurricane hit Haiti in 2010. Millions of people were left without clean water. By Christmas of that year, PortaPure began donating their PocketPure devices. Today in Haiti, where the company PortaPure still does most of their work, 60 percent of the population are still living in poverty. They do not have easy access to clean water. Although there are other solutions to clean water, those solutions can be expensive. To continue its mission to provide access to clean water all around the world, PortaPure has created multiple solutions that can help in their goal.

Efforts to Aid Haiti

After the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, PortaPure was not the only organization to invest in providing access to clean water. The U.N. came to help as well. Unfortunately, their sewage leaked into a clean source of water that contaminated it. Consequently, the leak exposed the Haitians to cholera. About 800,000 Haitians became sick from drinking and using water from the contaminated source.

The need to solve this problem was even more apparent after 10,000 people had died from cholera, so PortaPure knew their filtration system needed to be able to filter this out.

Their filtration system has the water pass through a series of filters that, in the end, filters down to .02 microns. This level allows for diseases, like cholera, to be filtered out and safe to use.

PocketPure Offers Clean Water to Drink

PortaPure’s first innovation, PocketPure, was meant to be a cheap solution to provide developing countries access to clean drinking water. It is meant to be very portable, pocket-size, as it weighs less than a pound. Even though it is portable, it still allows the user to drink one liter of water.

This is one of the cheapest innovations on the market as it costs less than $20. PocketPure’s affordability allows for more people to be able to donate these systems to developing countries. Although this price might still seem like a lot, other filtration systems can be as much as 100 dollars.

PureLives in Africa

African families compared to families in first-world countries use much less water. Families in developed countries can use up to 550 gallons of water per day while African families use about five gallons per day. One of PortaPure’s most recent products, PureLives, addresses the need for a large amount of water.

PureLives is a water treatment system that can hold up to five gallons of water. This is just the right amount for families in developing countries. This water treatment system is also portable as it acts like a backpack, making it easier to carry water home if the water source is far away. Additionally, it is efficient as it can filter water into the system at a gallon per minute. The PureLives system also has a long filtration life as it can last up to three years or 5,000 gallons.

Although PortaPure’s mission was to provide access to clean water for Haiti, it has evolved into a global mission. There are 785 million people in the world without access to water service. Furthermore, two billion people use a water source that has been contaminated by feces. These contaminated water sources contain diseases, like cholera, and many others that contribute to 485,000 deaths per year.

Luckily, with inventions such as the PureLives system, PortaPure provides some cost-effective solutions that allow Haiti to have access to clean water.

– Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Desalination TechnologiesToday, 4.5 billion people around the world don’t have access to adequate sanitation. In fact, 2.1 billion lack access to safe drinking water. The majority of these individuals reside in developing countries. With 96.5 percent of the world’s supply of water being seawater and climate change making rainfall levels more unpredictable than ever, it is crucial to innovate desalination technologies for third-world countries.

Status Quo

Currently, only about 1 percent of the world’s drinking water is generated through desalination processes. Most of the saltwater being treated is brackish water. This is saline waters that are less salty than the ocean and have a salt concentration less than 10,000 mg/L. As of 2015, there were about 18,000 desalination plants worldwide. Over half of these were located in North Africa and the Middle East. The greatest challenge facing the adoption of desalination technologies in developing countries is likely its high cost: three dollars per cubic meter. This is about twice the cost of treating wastewater or rainwater.

Current Techniques

Two of the most popular desalination technologies being utilized today are membrane separation and thermal evaporation. Membrane separation involves the process of using a partially permeable composite polyamide membrane that traps salt but allows water to pass through. This process is also known as reverse osmosis. Outside of the Middle East water market, this form of technology has increased in popularity. Through pressurization, the process is able to reverse the transport of the water across the membrane that would otherwise equalize the concentration of the fluids.

On the other hand, technological and business ventures into thermal evaporation have also increased over the past few years. This process is essentially a multi-step process in which saline waters are heated, often through solar power, in a highly compressed environment. This encourages the evaporation of fresh water, which is then captured and harvested

Future Directions

The desalination industry is currently projected to grow by eight percent per year in the Middle East and North Africa regions. The most important objective of desalination technologies today is cost reduction. Luckily, the cost of water desalination is expected to be reduced by up to twenty percent in the next five years. This is being done through technological innovation. Furthermore, it’s expected to be reduced by up to 60 percent in the next 20 years. This makes it more competent in terms of price in comparison to other water treatment methods.

There are no major technologies currently expected from the desalination industry. Incremental, yet important, advancements can still be seen. For instance, the size of the pores in membrane filters has been consistently decreasing for the past decade. This decrease is expected to continue. The amount of energy expended per unit of water is also expected to be lowered over the next few years. Thus, further reducing the price of water desalination.

As the global population continues to grow, the demand for freshwater can only be expected to increase. The only solution to this problem is for the minds of the world to innovate creative ways to meet this demand, one of which is through desalination technologies.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr

Water management in Armenia

With 25.7 percent of the population living below the poverty line, the people of Armenia consider water a luxury. Armenians face daily water shortages and unclean water supply in their homes. Despite this, several groups are working together to improve water management in Armenia. Maintaining a stable supply of water is an important step in lowering poverty and improving the lives of citizens.

3 Efforts to Improve Water Management in Armenia

  1. Relief to Yerevan: The World Bank sponsored a $50 million project to make water more accessible to Armenians living in the capital city, Yerevan. Before the intervention, families would have access to water in their homes for approximately six hours per day, and the water was usually unclean. Now, 332,000 families in the capital have access to water for 21 hours per day, and thanks to nine new chlorination stations, the water is cleaner and safer. The World Bank also recognized the need to monitor the water supply to prevent waste, so they introduced a software program that oversees the entire network of pipes and water mains. The program makes it possible to pinpoint areas within the network that need renovation or attention to maintain a stable supply of water. This program could help thousands of Armenians if it were implemented in other cities, but so far, it has brought a sense of security and relief to Yerevan.
  2. Wastewater Treatment Methods: Before 2010, the wastewater treatment system allowed unsanitary water to contaminate agricultural lands, causing a jeopardized food supply and an increased risk of disease. In the village of Parakar, Global Water Partnership’s Armenia branch stepped in to reform the wastewater treatment methods. They chose a cost-effective technology that treats domestic wastewater so that it can be later used for irrigation purposes and vice versa. This allows water to be recycled and reused, promoting a message of sustainability. The treatment program also focused on public awareness of the new treatment technology, involving the community in the process which facilitated the plan’s success.
  3. Water Within Reach: Armenians used to have to travel very far to get potable water. Some families were forced to drive over an hour to get to the public tap, spending a large portion of their income on the expenses associated with this travel. The Asian Development Bank launched a project that aimed to reduce the cost of obtaining water by making it clean and available within people’s own homes, benefitting more than 600,000 people across the country. Having access to water in the home for at least 17 hours per day now costs $12 per month – significantly less than what it previously cost to make the drive to the public tap. This initiative marginally contributes to the decrease in poverty among Armenian families, and it improves the quality of their lives significantly.

The World Bank, the Global Water Partnership and the Asian Development Bank have changed lives because of their work to improve water management in Armenia. This is a small but mighty step towards decreasing poverty in Armenia.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

technological InnovationsTechnology has the ability to change the way the world works and assist people currently living in poverty. Developing countries are often plagued by issues in sanitation as well as energy and medicine shortages that can hinder their economic security. Listed below are 4 new technological innovations that have the potential to reduce the effects of these issues and reduce poverty.

4 Technological Innovations That Can Reduce Poverty

  1. Sewage-free sanitation systems: There are roughly 2.6 billion people in the world without access to proper sanitation infrastructure. Some of the countries most affected by poverty, including India, Kenya and Pakistan, have millions of people living without proper sanitation systems. Without these systems, human waste is improperly disposed of into lakes and rivers, which can lead to health problems in the local population. Issues resulting from improper sanitation kill an estimated 1.4 million children each year. Researchers at Duke University, the University of Florida and Biomass Controls have been developing an energy efficient toilet that does not require a sewer system to operate. These toilets look like ordinary toilets. As of now, several different prototypes have been developed. One prototype, developed at the University of Florida, is able to filter out pollutants. Another prototype, developed by Biomass Controls, is able to heat waste and transform it into a carbon-rich material that can be used as fertilizer.
  2. Advanced fusion and fission reactors: New forms of nuclear power are expected to become available in the coming decades that will be both safer and cheaper than current nuclear power sources. Approximately 1.3 billion people live without access to energy. Energy poverty is unique because it is both a cause and a consequence of economic poverty. New nuclear designs that could help alleviate the issue of energy poverty include generation IV nuclear fission reactors, small modular reactors and fission reactors. Two companies, Terrestrial Energy and Terraworks, are hoping to use generation IV fission designs for grid supply in the 2020s. Small modular reactors are cost effective and reduce safety and environmental risks. While fission reactors seem to be a long way off, there has been some progress and they will be less controversial for public use since they create less long term waste and are safer than current nuclear sources.
  3. Blood testing for premature birth: Premature birth is a healthcare problem that disproportionately affects the developing world, particularly countries in Asia and Africa. Premature birth is linked to numerous health problems in newborns including increased risk of cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. Recent blood tests are now analyzing RNA instead of DNA, and scientists have identified seven genes linked to premature birth. This discovery of the genes related to premature birth could lead to future treatments for the problem.
  4. New desalination tech: Water scarcity is a huge problem that is linked to poverty. It is estimated that one in nine people (844 million) lack proper access to safe, clean water. Over the past few decades, scientists have developed a new method called desalination to turn saltwater into consumable fresh water. This process, however, is very expensive and requires a high amount of energy. New technology uses reverse osmosis for desalination. This process is not new, but instead of being powered by a battery, the new technology can be powered by solar energy, which is significantly more cost-efficient.

New technology has the potential to address many of the issues relating to poverty. Issues including energy, health and sanitation have long afflicted those in poverty and have hindered efforts to alleviate economic impoverishment. New technological innovations that are being developed today have the potential to be vital tools for reducing economic poverty in the future.

-Randall Costa

Photo: Flickr