Sand water filters: Simple solution to a life threatening situation


Kolang, 29 Januray 2009: For as long as she can remember, 43-year-old Ajang Abier watched friends and family fall mysteriously ill in her remote community of Kolang, in Upper Nile State. It wasn’t until she found herself rushing her 7-year-old son to the health centre due to severe stomach pain and vomiting that she vowed to look into the reasons why her village was vexed with a constant host of stomach complications.
After talking to all of the local nurses and elders it finally became clear to Ajang that the source of the problem was contaminated drinking water.

People had been drinking water from unsafe sources; prepared with makeshift filters such as dirty clothing, and the result was a deluge of waterborne diseases. This finally came to a halt when UNDP’s Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme (RRP) brought biosandfilters to Ajang’s community.

“Since the introduction of the sand filters to households by the RRP, we have had no serious waterborne related diseases affecting us,” explained Ajang.

The filters turned out to be a simple solution to a life threatening situation; made possible with cement, sand and willing hands; all of which were available in Kolang.

Here’s how it works: Community members collect sand from nearby streams and then wash and sieve it to gather the finer grains. These finer grains are then placed on top of a cement filter that other community members have been trained to build and operate. Water is poured over the sand, which traps the harmful bacteria that was making people sick.

The sandfilter project exemplifies what the RRP is all about: finding local solutions to local problems. And the solutions seem to be working. With the participation of Kolang members the RRP has managed to deliver clean drinking water to more then 1500 households and 24 schools; and given women like Ajang and her son a chance for a healthy new start.
Funded by the European Commission and managed by UNDP on behalf of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, the RRP is the largest recovery initiative across Sudan that strives to use community driven approaches that focus on sustainable development rather than relief. The RRP is implemented through f 44 national and international NGOs working together to rehabilitate Sudan.





 
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