One of the major issues that people face every day in the slum communities is lack of access to safe water. Much of the water that people come into contact with from springs and even taps can be a carrier of dangerous diseases such as dysentery and cholera. Most of the time water is boiled to purify it, but sometimes families take the risk of drinking untreated water and often suffer the consequences. Boiling on a charcoal stove, however, is costly and uses up precious family income. So a way of providing safe water for free would have amazing possibilities…
Enter SODIS or ‘Solar Water Disinfection’ – a method of cheap water purification using the plastic bottles that are seen lying around all over the slums. The process is surprisingly simple: fill a bottle with clear water; place on a hot, sunny roof for a day and you’ll have clean water by evening! The science behind it involves UV light killing harmful bacteria and starting a process of ‘ozonising’ the water; effectively treating it and making water safe to drink. If you look at a bought water bottle, you may see the phrase ‘UV treated and ozonated’, SODIS is similar, but free.
The plastic bottles needed to do SODIS are readily available in the communities and most people have roofs in the sun to make the process work well. It seems almost too good to be true, but it’s reassuringly endorsed by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF. So, after an initial training session in Banda slum from an organisation called Water School, (and some very enthusiastic Mamas), we are now carrying out our own training with small groups.
We’re really excited to see more families having easy and free access to clean water and we look forward to spotting roofs across Banda covered in bottles shining in the sun!
You can help support more training like this by donating to our work here.
To find out more about SODIS, visit the WaterSchool website.