Simple innovation uses dirt to bring clean water to rural villages in Africa

Access to clean water is something that many of us take for granted. But in rural villages in Africa and other developing countries, it’s a precious and rare commodity, the lack of which is the cause of disease and poverty.

Backed by the driving force of Peter Njodzeka, the founder of the Life and Water Development Group Cameroon (LWDGC), and a partnership with Thirst Relief International USA,  6 rural West African villages now have access to clean water. The project is also providing clean wells, latrines for 23 schools and education about hygiene and sanitation practices.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this project is that the technique used funnels dirt and bacteria  through biosand filters to clean the contaminated water.

Biosand filters are devices constructed by using an iron mold with concrete as the base of the form. It’s then filled with layers of differently sized, crushed rock. Layers of gravel and fine grain sand create the levels through which water is then poured over the course of three weeks.

Biosand filters use layers of gravel and sand to filter contaiminated water

A biolayer is formed during that timeframe which removes 99 percent of the bacteria from the water that passes through it, making it pure enough for safe drinking. The clean water comes out through a pipe that’s connected through the concrete from the bottom of the filter to the outlet on the top.

This remarkably simple but effective biosand filter can be used for up to 12 months if properly maintained.

What an amazing solution to a critically serious health problem. It’s remarkable what creativity backed by passion and commitment can achieve. And what a difference this can make.

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for this post Debra. I literally think about the millions who do not have clean water each time I take a shower and so many times throughout the day. It is great to hear about something that can make an impact!

  2. This is a very good product for people who lives in area where they simply can’t get clean water. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Nice and informative.Thanks for sharing.

  4. hi i am working on a biosand filter. i have built a biosand filter as described in the CAWST manual…To my surprised after keeping the standing water for 4 weeks,there is no formation of green layer above the top sand so please could you tell me what could be the reason. I have used the same water source and the standing water height is 6cm. CAWST manual described that it is not necessary that the bio layer should be green and slimy so how do we actually know that the bio layer has been formed.

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