Water Purification with Hypochlorite

The Challenge

Lack of access to clean drinking water is an unsolved problem in Africa.

Water-borne diseases lead to low life expectancy rates, high childhood mortality, low overall productivity and high economic costs.

In rural areas in Africa, piped-in water is non-existent in the poorest 40 per cent of households, and less than half of the population use any form of improved source of water.

Piped-in water is non-existent in the poorest 40 percent of households of rural Africa. Less than half the population of Africa has access to any form of improved water source.

The Situation

Only 63 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa has access to an improved water source. In rural communities, the figure is much lower.

The water problem is multi-faceted. Some examples:
- Public water systems are too expensive to install
- In mountaineous regions (i.e. Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Lesotho) piping water can be impossible due to the topography.
- Water is often fetched from open holes dug in the sand of dry riverbeds, and it is invariably contaminated.

Possible Solutions

Large utility operators in the cities employ various industrial-scale solutions that mostly combine filtration systems and chlorination (using chlorine as a gas). Piped water will be brought to most urban households.

In the rural areas, the situation is very different. There are no large utility operators, and there are no water pipes available. In thinly populated areas, appropriate technology options in water treatment include both community-scale and household-scale point-of-use (POU) designs.

Market Potential

The product group of Devices, Flasks & Tabs could provide appropriate solutions for the 1.3-1.5 billion people in need in rural areas across the developing world (thereof in Africa: 380 – 430 million people). They are among the only low-cost alternatives to providing safe water to people who live in small villages where the water source is bacteriologically polluted, or where the water source is safe but the necessary transportation and manipulation of the water results in frequent recontamination.

Water Treatment with Hypochlorite

Hypochlorite kills bacteria, viruses, sperm, and most protozoa, thereby making water safe to drink. Among all methods of water purification, disinfection with hypochlorite is the most cost-effective. Chemical residuals in the treated water would prevent it from recontamination, which is a basic requirement for any application in rural Africa.

Further readings