Live Earth's blog
Guest contributor Arjen van der Wal is an environmentalist and drilling expert at Practica Foundation, an Akvo support partner. Here he describes the opportunities possible when people are trained to drill wells.
Say you want to extract water from the ground, because you have had enough of carrying water around for six hours a day, and have more useful things to do with your time. And say you live in a region where the ground water is of good quality, and the soil consists of sand or clay. Then you might want to have a borehole, preferably near your house, where you can get nice, clean, safe water, without walking too far. What are your options?
GLOBE Learner from Central-Europe measuring water conductivity during a field investigation
The GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. GLOBE's vision promotes and supports students, teachers and scientists to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment and the Earth system working in close partnership with NASA and NSF Earth System Science Projects in study and research about the dynamics of Earth's environment.
The Rope pump
In the water sector, as elsewhere, good ideas can be surprisingly old. One such old idea is the rope pump, which is over 2000 years old and was used in ancient China. A rope pump consists of a pipe that reaches down to the water, a rope or chain through the tube, washers attached to the rope that fit snugly inside the tube, and a wheel on top to draw the rope with washers through the pipe. The water is held between the washers in the pipe, and is pulled to the surface.
The Dow Live Earth Run for Water Bali was announced this week at the Culture and Tourism Department on Balairung.
Nearly 100 members of the media attended the hour-long press conference.
Every Monday we profile a Dow Live Earth Run for Water partner organization that works toward providing solutions to the nearly 1 billion people who lack access to clean, safe water. To donate to one of these projects, visit liveearth.org/give.
Lien Aid is an international development NGO headquartered in Singapore. Its core mission is to build a firm foundation for human development by making safe water and sanitation accessible and affordable to poor communities in Asia. Founded in 2006 by the Lien Foundation and the Nanyang Technological University, Lien Aid's strength lies in delivering solutions using appropriate technology backed by knowledge transfer. Since its inception, Lien Aid has impacted over 200,000 lives in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam through various water treatment, sanitation and community development initiatives.
A shelter at an orphanage in Rwanda, made with ferrocement and bamboo. Photo ferrocement.com.
When I say "water tank," what image is conjured up in your mind? Is it one of those large black plastic tanks which you see so frequently in developing countries, usually perched on top of a small tower or on a roof? Millions of those are used around the world, so that image would be very appropriate. When I say "water tank," however, I think of something else entirely. I think of ferrocement: the best, strongest, durable, cheapest, and most versatile construction material I know. And I think of the water tanks I have built myself, using it.
A broken Afridev pump, which cost 1000$ when it was placed. Can this be avoided? Picture Henk Holtslag
Did I mean "reliable?" no. Not necessarily. It seems logical to demand that water pumps be reliable, right? Shouldn’t the goal be to make water pumps that are of such a good quality, that they don’t need any maintenance, and will never break down? Of course, this goal can never be reached because everything that moves breaks down eventually. But should we at least strive to make a pump that fails only after a very long time, say 10-15 years? Surprisingly, this seemingly logical idea has some unintended and potentially troublesome consequences.
As an example, consider one of the most common pumps in Afica, the Afridev pump. It is very durable, sturdy, breaks down only after 10 years or so. A very nice, well-designed pump. In all of Afica, some 30% of these pumps are broken today, in some countries 70%, and they are not being repaired. What happened? And let’s be clear: the problem is not that things break down, because everything breaks down eventually. The problem is that they are not being repaired.
A question: if we can fly to the moon, can we make a US$1 water filter for people to use in their homes? And, if the answer is yes, why haven't we yet? This is one of my favorite things: the quest for extremely affordable point-of-use water filters.
There are some hopeful developments. After Hindustan Unilever had introduced their Pureit water purifier at a price level of 30$ for a very well-designed and effective water filter, protected by 21 patents and using 5 water filtration steps, Tata Company recently introduced their Tata Swach water purifier, at $20, with 1 filtration step, but equaly good-looking. And we already had the Vestergaard Live Straw Family filter, also at $20. In the open source hardware corner, we have the biosand filters, and ceramic pot filters. Lots of good stuff.
A women using her water storage tank in Guinnee-Bissau. Photo: Paul Akkerman
Rain falls unto roofs and then runs off. And then? You could catch it and drink it. Any suitable roof surface -- tiles, metal sheets, plastics, but not grass or palm leaf -- can be used to intercept the flow of rainwater and provide a household with high-quality drinking water. Rainwater harvesting systems have been used since antiquity, and examples abound in all the great civilizations throughout history.