Avalon is the Founder of Conserve It Forward which can be followed on Twitter @conserveitforwa or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConserveItForwardWithAvalon
This summer, our family traveled to Washington State so we could learn how to make and use biosand water filters. This training was given by Friendly Water for the World. This nonprofit organization helps people all around the world to have safe drinking water. The way they help is by teaching people about sanitation, and how to make and use biosand water filters. Biosand water filters are a low cost, sustainable way to get safe drinking water. For about $50 per filter, a family can have safe drinking for at least 20 years!
Did you know that many people die from water borne diseases every single day, just because they do not have clean drinking water? Some of these illnesses are typhoid, hepatitis, and diarrhea. Imagine being so thirsty and the only source of water you have is very contaminated with microbes (microscopic living things that cause diseases). You have to drink water to live, but this water may make you very sick, or even die. In some parts of the world, the only water source may also be used for washing clothes, taking baths, and also for animals. People and animals may also use the restroom close to this water and that can contaminate it even more.
How do we improve this? One of the ways to have better sanitation would be to put a fence around your garden to keep animals out of your food source. Another way is to use a latrine for the restroom, so waste goes in a contained area. Washing your hands is a great way to stop microbes from spreading! These are just a few of the ways to have better sanitation.
Of course, the most important thing we learned about was how to make and use biosand water filters. So here is how it’s done. The first thing you need is a mold, and it is best to have it made locally because they are heavy and expensive to ship. Most of the other materials you need to make the filters are pretty easy to find throughout the world. Some of those things are sand, gravel, tubing, tools and sieves. It takes approximately 2 days to complete a filter and a lot of that is drying time for the cement mold. Yes, we even learned to make cement! Once it is dried and the tube is in, the next step is to charge the filter, which means you put in the gravel, sand and water. You let the water run through at least twice a day for 10-14 days. That time cleans unwanted microbes and also builds up the good microbes. The good microbes, along with the layers of sand and gravel, will help stop the bad microbes from filtering through. Then you can drink as much water from the biosand water filter as you want – you just have to make sure to share with the rest of your family or community!
So my week of training was a lot of fun. My family got to make friends with people from all around the world, like South Sudan, Burundi, Kenya and the U.S., too. Now, we all know how to help people get safe drinking water, in a low cost, sustainable way. To learn more, please visit www.FriendlyWaterfortheWorld.com or www.Cawst.org.