Water. We turn on our taps and out it comes. Many of us don’t think twice about drinking it, bathing in it, watering our plants with it, even play fighting with it, but for many around the world careful consideration must be take when using it. According to The Water Project Africa, 319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to clean reliable drinking water. In many occasions even if they do have access to water, people must walk far and wide in order to collect water and carry it home, which is an arduous task that takes time away from other important tasks. Yet another thing that makes many African households very inefficient. On once occasion, when following a family in search of water, we came across a muddy waterhole that they had been using for drinking and cooking water. In this same village I saw the delight when the first drop of pipe borne water fell out of a tap for which they had been saving for as a community for years.

Massive investment in water infrastructure is needed but there are innovations that are enabling communities and individuals in rural and urban Africa to be able to access water. The pure water sachet is not a new innovation, but it is an innovation that sprang out of need for portable affordable on the go drinking water. Many little sheds with filtration and bagging machines popped up throughout the continent, churning out water to the masses. For those that don’t know of them these sachets are 300 ml plastic squares filled with water. It is not for sipping, it is for quenching a deep thirst because they are not easily carried around. The ‘professional’ pure water drinker will squeeze the entirety of the water down his or her throat within a few seconds!

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Pure Water Seller

The Warka Water is an innovation that provides water for local communities, usually rural, without use of expensive materials or electricity. The design consists of an impressive  9 metre high structure, which has been influenced by the Namib beetle’s shell, lotus flower leaves, spider web threads and the integrated fog collection system in cactus. The shape is inspired by termite mounds and Ethiopian basket weaving techniques are put to good use. It works by harvesting potable water from the atmosphere. It collects rain water and harvests fog and dew, funnelling it down into an 800 gallon storage tank where it can be harvested. Warka Water estimate it can collect 13-26 gallons of water daily. It can be used not only to collect water, for drinking, cooking and even irrigation, but also as a shaded focal point for the community.

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Warka Water – collects water from the atmosphere

For some, despite gains water collecting tech, access to water will still mean long walks carrying heave buckets back on their heads. (It is incredible to see just how much weight some people can carry along on their head. I have even seen people dancing whilst carrying a load) A simple solution, the Hippo Roller,  has been created by two engineers from South Africa. Their innovation enables people to transport 5 times more water to their homes without carrying it on their head. It reinvents the wheelbarrow by simply using the barrel as a wheel. Sometimes the most simple solution is the most effective. They expect their invention to reduce the time women and children spend collecting water and give them more time for education and food production.

If the water isn’t clean, there is another innovation that enables you to filter local water. Just One Africa have developed a gravity operated filter that filters water at the rate of 20 gallons every 30 minutes. The high rate of flow means that water does not need to be stored for long periods, reducing the risk of contamination after filtering. Using technology used in kidney dialysis, the filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria.

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Just One Africa filter

The last innovation that I will feature here is a clever idea to both filter water and educate people on clean water usage. pAge Drinking Paper allows you to use pages of a specially developed book in order to filter your water. You simple rip out a page which has been treated with silver nano particles which kill 99.999% of diseases. The information on the book teaches people about sanitation issues and a single book can give someone clean water for up to 4 years. Each page only costs pennies to produce, which pAge Drinking Paper suggests is the cheapest on the market.

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A page from pAge Drinking Paper book

There are many other water innovations out there, which means there is likely to be a part two to this blog. If you know of any other innovative solutions that give people better access to water please let us know by commenting. And please  don’t forget to share the blog on Twitter and Facebook

2 thoughts on “Did You Know there is enough water in Africa?

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