Access to safe drinking water is a key priority in developing countries.  The consumption of unsafe water leads to a downward spiral of ill health and poverty.  However, in many South African communities, especially in rural areas, clean water is not readily available.  Difficult topography, low population density, lack of local expertise in water treatment and the high cost of providing water to remote communities are some of the reasons for this.

 

Community members have no choice but to use untreated sources of water like rivers. 

 

In 2014, a South African point-of-use technology (the woven fabric microfiltration gravity filter) was developed.  It meets the World Health Organisation’s standards for safe drinking water, even when tested on very poor quality water with high levels of pathogens.  Household point-of-use water treatment devices are an excellent alternative for safe water provision in rural communities. 

 

The aims of the project were to –

·         implement, optimise and demonstrate the point-of-use system in the target municipalities;

·         develop local capacity in the target municipalities for the implementation, logistics and servicing of the systems, hence facilitating the longer term sustainability of the point-of-use system and roll-out to more households;

·         develop guidelines for the procurement, implementation, logistics and maintenance of the units, towards roll-out in other municipalities;

·         document the performance and social acceptance of the point-of-use system, for the information of other municipalities and decision makers.

 

The last objective is essential, as projects are often unsuccessful if the relevant stakeholders are not brought on board from the start.  The process may be time consuming, but stakeholders need to be involved in any decision making. 

 

The project was implemented in the Capricorn District Municipality (Limpopo), and Bizana (Eastern Cape). The point-of-use filter technology is driven by gravity alone, requires no water treatment chemicals, and is robust, simple to operate and easy to maintain.

 

An initial 25 units were installed in the Capricorn District Municipality, followed a few months later by another 500 units.  Surveys were carried out in the two villages where the units had been installed, and communities and municipal officials were overwhelmingly positive in their response to the technology.  They were particularly pleased because children had fewer stomach problems. Those who had previously bought bottled water from supermarkets were glad that they no longer had to spend money on this.

 

The point-of-use system has brought clean, safe drinking water to communities where it was not previously available.  There has been a strong demand for further roll-out of the water filtration units to other villages.

 

Point of Use video

 

For more information contact:

 Water Research Commission

012 761 9300