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

Clean Water to KenyaIt all began with a friend and a teammate. In 2008, while running for the University of West Florida, Chris Hough noticed one of his teammates wore a small beaded bracelet customized with the Kenyan national flag. The bracelet sparked Hough’s interest, and that teammate promised to bring Hough a bracelet when he next returned to Kenya. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Flash forward to 2015. Hough, who worked at Nike, was out on a run when he crossed paths with Paul Chelimo and Shadrack Kipchirchir, two notable faces among Nike runners. Both are members of the military’s World Class Athlete Program and went on to compete in the 2016 Olympics, where Chelimo earned a silver medal in the 5,000 and Kipchirchir finished 19th in the 10,000. On that day, both men were wearing beaded bracelets with the Kenyan flag, the same one that Hough’s teammate wore eight years prior. Hough stopped them, inquiring about the bracelets and eventually striking up a valuable friendship. From that friendship, ArtiKen was born. Now, ArtiKen connects passion with passion, tieing the running community with philanthropic change.

ArtiKen’s Impact on the Ground

Thanks to the notoriety of Chelimo and Kipchirchir, ArtiKen bracelets quickly became popular amongst runners of all ages and skill sets. Olympians, elite athletes and high schoolers alike wear ArtiKen bracelets. However, ArtiKen is more than just a popular brand in the world of running. It is also a company driving positive change by bringing clean water to Kenya.

Currently, 41 percent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, which are ponds, shallow wells or rivers. Accordingly, 19 million people lack access to clean water, and 27 million people lack access to improved sanitation. Only 9 of the 55 water suppliers in Kenya have the ability to supply clean water on a regular basis. In short, many Kenyans still struggle to find clean water on a regular basis, especially those in rural areas or urban slums.

ArtiKen is striving to help solve the water crisis by bringing clean water to Kenya. The company donates 10 percent of every purchase to clean water initiatives throughout Kenya. The idea was to give back to those who in Kenyan communities because, without them, the company would have never existed. ArtiKen also employs members of the Massai tribe, helping these artists earn a steady income and provide for their families.

ArtiKen Connects Multiple Passions for One Cause

On Medium, Hough writes, “…giving those athletes the opportunity to show support and love through our jewelry is exciting, but more importantly, the ability to provide clean water to those in need is the foundation to our company’s mission— to help eradicate poverty and provide clean water in Kenya one day at a time.”

ArtiKen allows for runners to change the world through a single purchase. The company strives to create a positive impact on both local Kenyan and running communities. Through their simple, yet elegant bracelets, ArtiKen connects passion with passion, by bringing distant communities closer to one another to celebrate both art and athletics and by bringing clean water to Kenya.

– Andrew Edwards
Photo: Google Images

Safe Water Network
At the intersection of an assortment of key poverty-related issues lies the struggle for clean water. Roughly 80 percent of illnesses in developing nations are linked to limited access to clean water and proper sanitation. This spread of illnesses impacts child mortality rates, and reduces the competency of a nation’s workforce.

Children, particularly girls, are impacted disproportionately by reduced access to clean water. Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys to be responsible for fetching water in rural environments. This halves a population’s access to education, as the girls are too busy trekking for water to participate in school. Thus without clean water access, developing nations are hindered in multiple ways and pushed back to square one.  

The United Nations’ Aid Efforts

In 2015, the U.N. convened to reestablish a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By design, these goals were created to be met by 2030. In response to the global clean water crisis, global access to clean water was established as a primary goal for this initiative.

The U.N.’s commitment to channeling resources and attention towards the global clean water crisis serves as a reminder that this issue remains at the forefront of humanitarian work. Clearly, the challenge of clean water access is not commitment, awareness or resources; rather, it is the effective implementation of filtration systems and stations.

How to Establish Clean Water Access

The mainstay approach to establishing clean water access, the deployment of filtration stations or wells, is rife with challenges. These stations are typically deployed in low-income areas, and are not supported by an effective contingency plan that extends past their build date. They are oftentimes left in unforgiving environments without technicians or significant financial support. Due to this, 30 percent to 60 percent of clean water stations fail within the first three years of existence.

Safe Water Network, a clean water focused NGO founded in 2006 by philanthropist Paul Newman, employs a unique model that responds to these challenges. Much like any clean water NGO, Safe Water Network deploys water stations across both India and Ghana with the aid of philanthropic capital. Rather than leaving these stations alone, though, the organization diverts funding into the community to train local technicians and operators. With the help of these technicians and operators, the station remains in good condition.

Station By Station

The station then produces affordably priced clean water that is typically much cheaper than the bottled water in the area. The majority of the stations penetrate 80 percent of the local populace, meaning that the revenue funnels back into the clean water station to ensure long-term, high-quality maintenance. By tapping into the local economic ecosystem, these stations become sewn into the community fabric of the respective regions.

In fact, Poonam Sewak, the Vice President of India programs for Safe Water Network, stated: “I would like to say whoever comes to work in clean water should come with a vision that it has to be sustainable. If you are not creating and leaving behind two things: technicians with access to spare parts, and second, training to the people to own and manage their own product then you have done a disservice to the money which you had.” 

Sewak also emphasized the program’s goal to instill autonomy, entrepreneurship and confidence in the communities in addition to providing essential & sustainable clean water access. 

Clean Water Toolkit

Global long-term cooperative efforts are another component of the organization’s strategy. Safe Water Network aims to build a database platform of their collective clean water knowledge derived from each of their stations. This database draws on digital monitoring systems installed at a majority of the sites. By monitoring water outputs and other technical details, Safe Water Network is better able to understand which approaches are most effective in conjunction with their market-based methodology.

In India, Safe Water Network has already provided this collective knowledge to the Ministry of Clean Water and the Ministry of Urban Planning so that they are better able to respond to the challenge of managing sanitation in urban environments. In the future, the organization hopes to expand this database so that it can be accessed by other initiatives and NGOs who aim to create their own sustainable safe water stations. Essentially, Safe Water Network is building a new clean water toolkit for the future.

Global Goals

While the challenge of creating global clean water access by 2030 per the U.N.’s SDGs still looms ahead, Safe Water Network serves as an example of the effectiveness of innovation in the face of adversity.

Safe Water Network has already reached 300 communities, providing long-term clean water access to about one million people. As their network of governments, charities and NGOs expands with the aid of the clean water toolkit, their positive impact will surely be multiplied.    

– Ian Greenwood
Photo: Flickr