Clean water

Water Glass and Jug, Chardin (c. 1760)

Via Sociolingo‘s blog, I came across this interesting article on the BBC about Tanzanian villagers who have started sterilising their drinking water by leaving it in bottles under the sun:

Solar radiation means a combination of ultra-violet rays and heat destroys the bacteria which cause common water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhoea. After eight hours in the sun, it is ready to drink.

Plan International is apparently thinking about extending the system across the whole country.


2 responses to “Clean water

  1. Solar radiation is actually quite widespread already (thankfully, as other forms of purification are quite lacking) – at least in some parts of W. Africa. When I was in Mali recently, there are two types of purified water one can purchase – spring water in bottles (either Evian or locally-sourced, from Bamako for instance) or water in small plastic bags (sachets d’eau). The sachets are orders of magnitude less expensive (50cfa per litre vs. 400-1,000cfa per 1.5 litres) and they are – you guessed it – solar-purified. So, while solar purification in the satchets is probably not as rigorous as the filter purification they use on bottled spring water, my companions and I, Americans all, opted to drink the satchets (to save money) and experienced no negative consequences for our un-hardened digestive system! What’s more, the satchets are cheap enough to compete with hand-packaged water (the kind that usually comes straight out of the creek and what Peace Corps volunteers call “giardia in a bag” – needless to say, visitors shouldn’t drink this water). I also understand that there are some village-level projects in solar purification sponsored by aid agencies and national governments, but would have to do more research to get more information. Anyway – this DOES represent a great public health initiative – thanks for posting.

  2. Welcome, and thank you for providing more information on the topic!

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