The Life Sack: Providing Access to Improved Water Globally

Life-SackApproximately 63 million people do not have access to clean water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). To address this problem, industrial designers Jung Uk Park, Myeong Hoon Lee and Dae You Lee came up with the Life Sack.

The Life Sack functions as a water purifier that utilizes solar water disinfection process (SODIS) technology. UVA radiation and thermal treatment work together to kill toxic microorganisms and bacteria.

Typically, UVA radiation and thermal treatment are individually harmful to microorganisms and bacteria. The combined effect, therefore, increases the efficacy of the purification process. Moreover, the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) composition lends the Life Sack a high sunlight penetration ratio and durability.

Fashioned as a backpack, the Life Sack also ensures ease of mobility, which is especially crucial for areas without sources of water. These areas rely on individuals to travel outside of the community to supply the water that they need.

Water purification is not the only way that the Life Sack can be used.

The designers were partly inspired by how nongovernmental organizations and other charities often sent their supplies, such as grain and other food staples, in sacks. The Life Sack can thus double as a storage unit, allowing users to easily store and transfer goods other than water when needed. According to CauseTech, some nongovernmental organizations now use the Life Sack rather than “conventional food bags” to send their goods.

Since the initial launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), great improvements have been made in global access to improved sources of drinking water. From 1990 to 2015, the percentage of the global population with access to improved sources of drinking water has risen from 76 percent to 91 percent.

Further improvements are still to be made. Of the 63 million without access to clean water, most are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Southeast Asia.

A lack of access to clean water increases the propensity for water-borne diseases. Figures from WHO indicate that 760,000 children under five die of diarrheal diseases every year. More universal access to clean water would help in reducing this number.

Goal six of the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) addresses the need to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all” by 2030. Innovations like the Life Sack may support this effort toward increasing global access to improved water sources.

Jocelyn Lim

Sources: Inhabitat, SODIS, Tuvie, The United Nations, UNICEF