Gallery: Ceramic Water Filters Win IWA Award for Cambodia


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.

+ Water and Sanitation Program


+ Field Report on Ceramic Filters in Cambodia [PDF]


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  1. Mohd October 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    do you know if there is a factory for this filters in china?

  2. riaftab May 4, 2011 at 1:27 am

    We are working for community welfare & wish to make sure that every one has right to drink PURE Water. In this regard We need your help.
    If U kindly tell us the procedure of clay water filter so that we can achieve our Goal.
    Thanking in anticipation
    Raja Imran
    President SHAFEE Welfare Organisation

  3. alphawater October 29, 2010 at 2:17 am

    The ceramic filters are so useful as they are made of clay ….its a good invention.

  4. austintexican March 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    The ceramic filters are made from clay mixed with sawdust then fired to burn out the sawdust and leave the pores. Then they are treated with colloidal silver to disinfect the water and keep the filter sterile. I think you could heat a dirty filter in a fire to burn off any organic particles blocking the pores. Colloidial Silver can be produced low tech to retreat the filters. (see video)
    With minimal care the filter should last a very long time.

  5. IDE Cambodia March 24, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Thanks for this article. There is, however, a slight misreprestenation of the facts. UNICEF and WSP do not provide or promote ceramic water filters in Cambodia at all. The IWA award was given for research funded by UNICEF and WSP, which demonstrated the effectiveness of these filters at reducing the incidence of diarrhea in rural households. The filters were introduced to Cambodia in 2001 by International Development Enterprises (IDE, and are currently produced and distributed by three organizations: IDE, Resource Development International (RDI, and the Cambodian Red Cross. Together, these organizations have distributed upwards of 250,000 filters in Cambodia, improving thelives of more than one million people.

    In answer to the last comment. The filters do get clogged but can be cleaned using a plastic brush to increase the flow rate. Eventually, deep clogging of the pores can render the filter ineffective at which point it needs to be replaced. The average lifespan of a ceramic filter is 2 years. The size and shape of the filter make backflusing difficult. Chlorine is not recommended for cleaning of the ceramic filter element but can be used to clean the plastic receptacle tank and spigot.

  6. crackgerbal March 9, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    that is a really cool and apparently fairly cost effective idea. I think that the pore spaces in the ceramic will eventually be filled up though, so what do you do with the pots after that?

    is there a way to back flush the pot systems to clean them out. And are they doing any disinfection with bleach?

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