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Biosand filter provides safe drinking water for Derin during drought

The Derin community in the Trans-Gogol area of Madang is enjoying purified and clean water despite water shortage caused by the current El Nino drought.

The ’biosand filter’ technology, introduced by NARI and BOKU to help the rural community having access to clean water during water shortage as a result of extreme climatic conditions, has proven worthwhile for households in Derin.

The technology was introduced as part of the NARI-EU ARD project on climate change adaptation. Derin is one of the project sites.

All sources of clean drinking water and even creeks in Derin have dried up due to the prolonged dry spell but the Ward 9 community is able to get clean and purified water for drinking and other household chores, says  Peter Kunou, Ward 9 village councilor.

Kunou told a project evaluation team which visited the site on November 3 2015 that his community is fortunate to use biosand filters locally developed to filter and purify any unsafe water found in drains and dried up creeks in the village.

“What comes out of the purification process is clean water free from pathogens and dirt,” Kunou said.

Besides interventions on food crops and livestock, the water purification process was demonstrated to the community and over 20 households have adopted the concept so far and are now using it for their water requirements.

“Instead of travelling long distances looking for clean water, we can now purify and consume any water found around the village and garden areas,” Kunou emphasized.

Dominik Ruffeis, the expert behind the biosand filter technology, said water harvesting methods - wells and tanks - were also established to give the community options in accessing safe drinking water. Ruffeis added that when tanks exhaust water during dry seasons, people can use the biosand filter to purify unsafe water for consumption.

The filter comprises layers of sand and gravel of different sizes packed in a brick column. When contaminated water is poured into the inlet, it goes through the layers, leaving a clean and purified water through the outlet. All pathogens get trapped or stuck in the sand as they are too big to fit through. The pathogens die when; they cannot get away, there isn’t enough food or air for them or they eat each other.

The entire Ward 9 community spoke highly of the intervention as it has benefited them greatly.

A mother, Alis Opam, thanked NARI saying the biosand filter process was important for the health and hygiene of mothers and children in the community.

BOKU is Austria’s University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, which is a partner in the European Union funded project. The project is implemented in PNG, Solomon Island and Vanuatu. 

Photo: Derin Ward 9 councilor Peter Kunou demonstrates his biosand filter

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