Affordable Water Filters For The Villagers

‘Swachh Bharat Mission(SBM) Awareness Campaign’ one of the leading campaign in our country and we (students from IRMA) got a chance to go to the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh where Samarthan - Centre for Development Support is working as one of the leading organisation, mobilizing the communities on several issues including SBM. For our Village Field Segment, we interned in the Panna regional office of Samarthan where we got a chance to live in a remote area which was having a long list of issues to be solved out of which we picked up the issues related to safe drinking water as it was one of the burning issues in that village. In our village, we organised a campaign which aims at creating the awareness about the importance of cleanliness, hazards and risks of open defecation and promoting healthy personal hygiene habits among children.One thing which we observed from the day 1 of our stay in the village was that the villagers were using water from hand pump for drinking purpose without filtering it. We observed that the water from hand pump had a lot of floating particles primarily sand particles and if the water is left in a bottle for more than 2 hours, the dust particles settle down in the bottle and it becomes brown. People were using this unclean water for drinking and cooking and this will surely have an impact on their health. We thought of doing something and decided to create a simple zero cost water filter which can be used by the villagers to filter the water and drink it. We decided to create a model which is feasible, simple yet effective and which can be carried out by villagers in a sustainable way. In this blog, we will be sharing with you the procedure of the water filters which were very easy to make and affordable for all the villagers to ensure safe drinking practices. 

For this, we made a sample filter using water bottles as a prototype to check the effectiveness of the filter and also explain it to villagers by demonstrating how filtration of water happens. For the purpose of making a water filter, we took two 1 litre water bottles and cut the bottom portion of one of the bottles and turned it in the inverted position. We first filled the water bottle with coarse gravel, i.e., small pebble type stones, for a thickness of about 4 cm, then we filled with fine sand for another 4 cm, followed by charcoal for another 4 cm and finally again filling coarse gravel in the top layer for another 4 cm. We made sure that when each layer is filled, the layer is compacted properly so as to avoid mixing of different layers. We made a small hole with a diameter of about 1 mm in the bottle cap and placed the bottle in another bottle, such that filtered water is collected in the second bottle.
The topmost gravel layer is used to filter out large sediments in the water. The next layer made out of finer sand will filter out smaller sediments. The next layer of charcoal absorbs the carbon-based material. The bottom-most layer is to prevent finer sand and charcoal from going out through the hole. Thus our small prototype was ready and we decided to check out its effectiveness by pouring water through it. Since the prototype model was small, it took around 5 minutes for a tumbler of water to get filtered. The water was crystal clear and we decided to keep it still for 2 hours along with another sample of unfiltered water, so as to observe whether any settling of sedimentation occurs. After 2 hours, we found that the difference between filtered and unfiltered was very much visible, and even the taste was good.
We then decided to demonstrate this model in front of the villagers. Around 25-30 villagers gathered to watch the demonstration. We first took a tumble of water and put sand into it, so as to make it dirtier. We then asked them to pour the filter themselves. While the filtration process was going on, we explained them about the filter. After 5 minutes, we got the filtered water which was clear and without any floating particles. We focused torchlight into the filtered water to show them the clear water. We also asked them to smell the filtered water, as it had no smell unlike the raw groundwater, which had soil smell. They were impressed by looking at how the filter changed brown coloured water into clean water. They were particularly impressed when they came to know about materials used, which are easily available in the village and which the villagers usually consider as waste. We then drank that water in front of them, after which they also tasted the water. The villagers were really interested and asked us few more doubts about how to make the filter. Thus we hope that with this small contribution, we could ensure that villagers get clean water. 

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