Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ready to Drink

If you missed World Water Day (3.22.10), then April will be your month to celebrate for Earth Day (4.22.10). Yet, given all these global holidays, what are we really cheering for? Are we hoping to recycle one more plastic Nalgene, reduce paper towel usage, or reuse an old pillow case as another cleaning doily. In short the answer is yes. It all counts, but why not go for the Gold and doing something bigger, better and more impactful.

National Geographic covered several gold--go-getters in the water arena with articles on desalination, infrastructure, and new age cisterns. Most surprising, in my opinion, was an article on families living in Nairobi, Kenya who used a simple, old, traditional style for water disinfection. You simply retrieve a plastic water bottle (there are many even in Africa), remove the label, fill it up with water that is not overly murky and place the bottle on a piece of metal in the sunlight. In six hours, the UV radiation will disrupt the genetic processes of bacterial reproduction and destroy the cell walls.

Now being used all over the world is SODIS, a Swiss acronym for a program used to reduce diarrhea and other water borne diseases while providing safer drinking water. Basic research results are showing absenteeism has dropped significantly. Before SODIS, only about 10 to 15 percent of students would go to school and pass the sixth grade. Now, with healthier lives, about 90 to 95 percent of students are passing classes. Efforts are stilling be tweaked to prevent recontamination, especially with chemically contaminated water and other non-plastic options (e.g. glass or other clear containers) in order to increase awareness and education.

Image Source: Matter Network, 2008

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