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

Water filtration is no doubt important; clean water is a basic necessity of human life used for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Many diseases are directly caused by unclean water. One such disease is cholera, which researchers have estimated is responsible for up to 142,000 deaths every year.

However, an unexpected water filtration technique has been shown to reduce the incidence of cholera in parts of Bangladesh by up to 48%. Also, the technique does not require expensive technology or devices, but actually uses an already available and widely popular material.

Saris are the traditional garments that are worn by many females in much of South-East Asia, including India. The sari cloth, when folded several times, acts as a filtration system that catches impurities and bacilli, making even water collected from streams or canals safe to consume.

The technique was introduced in several Indian villages by researchers from the University of Maryland in 2003. They noticed that many women in Indian villages would filter water in their homes with a thin, single layer of cloth. While this would strain out larger, visible particles, the material’s pores were not thick enough to remove unseen particles or plankton.

Five years after the initial study, researchers returned to investigate how effective the method was and if people were still using it. What they found was fairly surprising. Out of the more than 7,000 village women from the original trail, only 31% of them continued to filter their water in some way. Of this 31%, 60% used the sari method.

Considering the low percentage of villagers who continued to use the practice, the reduction of cholera incidences by 25% was still impressive. However, they could have been higher if more people chose to filter their drinking water.

Furthermore, the researchers found that 25% of neighboring households that did not receive the filtering instruction during the first study had begun using it, demonstrating that community members shared the knowledge they received and trickled down the benefits of this simple, yet effective technique.

While the sari filtration method is not perfect, it does make water considerably safer for consumption rather than leaving it entirely unfiltered. With this cost effective, reasonably successful solution known and available, it seems that the final obstacle is spreading, encouraging and maintaining the practice within communities.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: The Hummingbird Project, mBio, NY Times, WHO
Photo: Wikimedia

Pure Water for the World
Pure Water for the World (PWW) is an international nonprofit organization helping end the world water crisis. The organization currently works in Haiti and Honduras, bringing “water filtration, safe sanitation and hygiene education” to struggling communities.

Almost 1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean water, and according to PWW, “Lack of clean water, lack of sanitation and unfamiliarity with good hygiene practices kill more people every year than all acts of war and violence, auto accidents and HIV/AIDS combined.”

It is clear the state of water is dismal, and PWW is doing something about it.

The organization has a community-based approach, with 90 percent of its employees operating on the ground in Haiti or Honduras “changing lives by empowering people to be a part of the solution.”

Functioning mainly in rural areas, PWW first scouts out potential communities by meeting with community leaders and assessing which areas need the most improvement.

In order to maximize the number of people that benefit from its work, PWW identifies key locations, often schools and health clinics, where it installs its water filtration technology and sanitation facilities.

While installing new technologies to create clean water is a useful strategy, educational training is the backbone of PWW’s programs.

In target communities, an individual is chosen by the locals to be trained to maintain and fix PWW’s systems. This allows for the region to become self-sufficient, so that when the organization leaves, the improvements can be maintained.

In addition to recognizing one community member as a sanitation leader, hygiene education is also given to communities at large.

If just one person misuses a central water source, contamination can occur; PWW makes efforts to ensure that all are educated about how to properly sustain hygiene. Education is essential to create long-term improvements.

The organization epitomized the importance of education when it said, “PWW can deliver safe water to a village, but without the knowledge of how and why this improves their lives, and the tools to reduce disease, water will be temporary medicine at best – treating the symptoms without rooting out the underlying causes.”

To ensure that all installations have gone as planned, PWW returns to communities three months after the initial work is finished to ensure that everyone has received proper training, and again after seven months to assess the overall effectiveness of its program.

These final evaluations allow for the organization to adapt to new challenges and to learn how to better tackle water crises.

As stated by PWW, “Improved water, sanitation and hygiene practices saves lives and has significant implications in reducing poverty.” By installing technology to create clean water, and by educating people about how to maintain clean water and prevent water-borne diseases, Pure Water for the World is helping eliminate poverty, and is making a difference in people’s lives.

— Emily Jablonski

Sources: Classy, Pure Water for the World
Photo: Pure Water for the World

The Soma water filter, a new technological advancement with a clean design is now the motive of a clean water project. The hourglass-shaped filter also uses a sustainable filtration method and biodegradable filters, adding to the environmentally-friendly vibe. According to the Soma website, the product is “a dishwasher safe hourglass-shaped carafe with a revolutionary filter made from stuff like Malaysian coconut shell carbon and layers of fine silk, it’s got a two-month shelf-life before it needs to be replaced. And when it does, Soma’s subscription service will ship them to your door. This holiday season, they are a popular product.” It’s sleek design, and environmentally friendly aspect has ranked them as one of the most demanded products of the market.

That’s not all! Now, Soma executives have revealed that they are teaming up with charity  to “provide clean drinking water to those in need.” According to Soma executives, every filter you buy supports bringing clean water.  Moreover, Soma’s made this a limited-edition charity water filter so if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift this might be it.

You not only get an innovative, environmentally friendly filter, but also give funds to developing areas that lack clean water. For every purchase, “$12.50 will be donated to Soma’s clean water’s projects. The ultimate goal is to be able to provide clean drinking water to every family in three Cambodian villages. Prices start at $49 for a Soma and one filter, to $159 for a Soma and 12 filters.” Since it’s Kickstarter campaign began, Soma has raised over $3.7 million for villages that lack clean water.

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: GQ, GQ, Tech Crunch
Photo: Kick Starter


North of Lake Kivu in the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, civil strife has caused thousands of refugees to flee to the Bulengo Camp. Home to about 45,000, Bulengo has been given the remodeling of a lifetime thanks to the hard work of Oxfam volunteers. Over a six week period, a basic yet high-functioning water filtration system has been set up that provides enough clean water for the entire camp.

The entire system is comprised of hundreds of meters of piping. Water is pumped directly from Lake Kivu and sent to large tanks. Within these tanks, the water is filtered and chlorinated to prevent diseases such as cholera. The tanks can hold up to 70,000 liters (approximately 18,492 gallons) each and are filled twice a day.

An amazing aspect of this system, aside from the fact that it provides the most basic need to thousands, is that the system is managed by the refugees. They maintain the pipes and check the chlorination process to ensure everything runs smoothly from the lake to the lips of thirsty refugees. The best job, however, is that of the young children who run to the taps in the camp to freely fill up their buckets and bottles.

Oxfam shows that through providing basic building materials, it is possible to greatly impact more than 45,000 people. It is proven through successful aid work that developing countries do not need the most modern technology; they do not only require a constant stream of millions of dollars but also the time and creativity of those willing to go out to these countries and help. In a matter of just six weeks, thousands of lives have instantly changed. There was no need for excessive donors, elongated presentations or even extensive research on how to solve the problem. Six weeks, plastic pipes and plastic bottles was all it took to get clean water from lake to lips.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source:Oxfam International