By Olga Permanyer, Kopernik Fellow
Water is a necessary good, as we depend on this resource strongly. Not only is it important to have access to it, but also to be able to have the means to turn this water into clean water for human consumption. If we read carefully the Millennium Development Goals, we won’t see the word "water" itself in any of the eight goals, but it is directly linked to most of them. For example, in order to promote gender equality and empowering women, we have to take into account that mainly women and girls are in charge of providing water for their house. And the further the water source is, the more time the need to spend fetching water instead of doing homework, for example, which then it is reflected in literacy rates between genders. We could find another example in the 4th goal: reducing child mortality. Water is a source of diseases when it is not treated properly. Sometimes it is difficult for some people to see the real relation between some illnesses and the quality of water but having access to clean water could reduce the threats of deadly diseases and therefore will reduce child mortality.
Women in Biqueli are drawing water from the well
That is why this week we are going to distribute some Solvatten water filters in the sub villages of Vila, on Ataúro Island. This will be my other assignment apart from helping with the d.light S250 solar light distribution project with the NGO Move Forward. I will be working along with Roman Luan, another Kopernik’s local partner based in Vila, Atauro Island. Nowadays, the community has potable water available in the hospital in Vila. The water comes through a pipe, ends up in a tank and then it is treated with ultraviolet light. People can go directly there and refill their domestic deposits. It costs them USD 2 for 10 liters of water. Normally, if this water is used only to drink, it lasts an average of one week (always depending on the size of the households). However there are still some families that have to walk quite a long way to reach this water source.
The Solvatten is a black and light household water treatment unit that uses UV light, heat and built-in filter in the unit to treat water. It can hold 10 liters of water and by putting it directly under the sun light for four hours (Ataúro is a sunny island!) - the water becomes potable. A green happy face indicator tells you when the process is completed.
Solvatten in action
The families won’t have to go that far to get water, they will save some monthly money, and they won’t need to use firewood to boil the water to make it drinkable. Roman Luan has already showed to the communities how it works, and there are some families who have already registered to get one. At the same time, we will be working together with the NGO Move Forward , in the village of Biqueli. There might be more interests there since that village is located around 13 Km away from the hospital and the families need either to buy more expensive bottled water or boil the water (some people sometimes just drink the water from the well without processing it first).
Explanation on Solvatten in front of the sub village chiefs
It is going to be very interesting to see the impact that this kind of technology is going to have in some communities. It makes me realize how essential and comfortable it is to have drinkable tap water back at home in Barcelona. It is a commodity that I usually took for granted but now seeing that water is very valuable here, I think it is important to value many other things in our daily life. Everything I’ll learn, I’ll share it!
All photos by Olga Permanyer.