Developing ceramic filters for rural communities to have access to safe drinking water.

While access to clean and affordable drinking water is considered by many as a human right, nearly 1.1 billion of the world’s poorest people, those earning US $2 a day or less, are without adequate water services and access to safe drinking water (WHO, 2004). With world urban populations increasing more than tenfold during the twentieth century (WWAP), urban populations such as Mexico City, are made up of more than 30% rural migrants. This leaves rural communities vulnerable to water access and other environmental issues.

In rural campesino communities of Mexico, access to clean water involves the lost time to access the source and typical costs a family $24 pesos (roughly US $2) a pay for drinking water alone. Drinking water, free of bacteria and pathogens (the number one cause of water related illness and death globally), is a human right that should made available to everyone affordably (CATIS).

Engineers Without Borders UK have worked in partnership with CATIS, a local grassroots organasiation, for a number of years. Together we have worked on projects to transform rural economics and the resurgence of ecologically healthy rural communities.

One of these projects was the development of a ceramic filter to remove fluoride and arsenic from drinking water.  Will, an Engineers Without Borders UK volunteer, spent three months working with CATIS developing the filter.  Will further engaged with the community in a number of ways. He assisted with installing the filters, produced resources and gave workshops to inform the local community about the new technology and water quality issues.  He even found time to volunteer to teach English at a local library and play for two local football teams!

The ceramic filter Will worked hard to introduce into rural communities have reduced the cost of potable water by 100 times! This inexpensive, low tech filter is also very effective at removing harmful pathogens. Being lighter and easier to transport, in-home filters have transformed the lives of rural residents.

Since returning to the UK, Will was integrated his experience with CATIS into his university thesis, producing a technical report for CATIS to use to further the development of their technology and have an even greater impact on the ground.

In 2015, Engineers Without Borders volunteers worked a staggering 32,054 hours on international projects, such as this one. With your help we are determined to help everyone everywhere have access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.