As populations in developing nations increase alongside global pollution and the spread of water-borne illnesses, the need for clean and efficient water filtration has never been more urgent. Recently, the International Water Association (IWA) awarded UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program with the 2008 Project Innovation Award Grand Prize for providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters. These water purification devices are made and distributed by Cambodian nationals, and have resulted in a 50 percent drop in diarrheal illnesses in the region since their implementation in 2002.
Developed in a joint effort between UNICEF and the WSP, these ceramic water filters rely upon porous ceramic (fired clay) to filter microbes or other contaminants from drinking water. The units feature a pore size that is small enough to remove virtually all bacteria and protozoa, and they work by gravity filtration, with flow rates of 1-3 liters per hour.
There are 3 active factories in Cambodia today producing 5500 ceramic water filters per month, which have been tested to reduce E.coli by 99.99 percent. The filters are distributed and marketed with the aid of a variety of NGOs and independent businesses in Cambodia. This trial program has proven successful and planned for expansion in the near future, with the hope of addressing the needs of two thirds of all Cambodians that don’t have access to clean drinking water.