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Water Filters for Household Use in Ghana

One of the Millennium Development Goals is to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water”.  In Ghana, most communities currently rely on open traditional wells, streams and other contaminated water sources. Only 36 % of the rural population in Ghana has access to improved drinking water and only 35% of the urban households have a water main connection. Provision of clean, portable water is critical to reducing health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated water. These health risks include typhoid, dysentery, cholera and parasitic diseases.

In March of 2006, EnterpriseWorks/VITA, with funding from Diageo (Guinness) Foundation, conducted a feasibility assessment of a water filter production facility in Ghana. Local communities were also studied to determine the benefits and shortcomings of various types of filters. The results of the study were utilized in a water filter project which began in November of 2006. The project proposes the dissemination of a Ghanaian made ceramic water filter that could offer an affordable household level solution to the problem of unsafe drinking water.  The idea of using local solutions for water quality improvement is a significant deviation from the approach used in the past.  Previously the emphasis was placed on importing standardized solutions from outside of the country, which resulted in long supply chains, limited development of local capacity and subsequent failures, still evidenced by the high percentage of systems that are not working at any given time.  Local solutions such as the scientifically proven ceramic filter technology have been successfully introduced in Asia and Latin America, yielding rapid improvements in improving water quality from contaminated sources. 

In the project’s 12-month period, EWV expects to improve the health and productivity of 30,000 Ghanaians by reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases through the distribution and sale of 5,000 filters; establish a profitable and sustainable supply chain for the commercialization of filters through retail outlets and water sector organizations; institute quality control and follow-up to guarantee that the filter production delivers a high quality filter; and develop and disseminate actions to ensure that users are able to maintain the filters.