an immediate solution for water sanitation in the tsunami affected areas
December 30, 2004 9:02 PM   Subscribe is a Swiss group which has conducted low cost water treatment research in areas of the world currently affected by the tsunami. There are immediate concerns with waterbourne microbial diseases. The entire region is receiving rainfall at the moment. Shipping in massive amounts of plastic bottles to sanitize that falling water may be a viable immediate fix for water sanitation.
posted by elle (6 comments total)
I just got back from visiting Thailand, Laos and Cambodia about three weeks ago and spent some of my time around the areas affected by the tsunami. I can assure you the in a lot of the places I visited even the locals didn't drink the water. Bottled water, treated within the same country, was readily available and cheap even in local costs (about $0.25US for 700ml and cheaper when purched in greater volumes). Not to detract from the work that Sodis is doing, but in a lot of cases I think that if they can provide the bottles, they can also provide the water with them.
posted by furtive at 10:08 PM on December 30, 2004


I think you underestimate the magnitude of the logistics issues in the affected areas.

Traditional bottled water is good for one serving, and then the bottle is just a bottle. Without a constant stream of deliveries, the only option is to fill it will contaminated ground water. For more safe fresh water, a truck or airdrop needs to come and deliver. An innovation like this allows a single drop and provides repeated servings of safe water.

You'all might have noticed that I can be not the most touchy feely type person, but this kind of applied geekiery for honest, pragmatic solutions to the big problems of the developing world makes me an optimist.

I know many people think that the world is doomed unless everyone reneges intrinsic human nature and puts other before themselves, however, historically, hacks like this help people become self sufficient, one pragmatic step at a time.

posted by PissOnYourParade at 10:41 PM on December 30, 2004

Sounds elegantly simple. I did a Google search of the available literature. UNESCO and WHO both had info. Testing info on the SoDis site claims coliform bacteria killed at 80-85C, 176-185F in clear plastic bottles. I'm a perpetual sceptic and would like to see results from other lab tests, but it will be great if it really works to produce safe drinking water.

I hope that the water treatment facilities that produced the bottled water that furtive found in Thailand are still in operation and that there is a means to distribute it.

Many lives hang in the balance of the availablity of safe drinking water....
posted by X4ster at 10:57 PM on December 30, 2004

This reminds me of a program in Africa to improve hygiene and health. The program included a beautiful low-tech hack: to sterilize water, place it in a bottle and sit it out in the sun.
posted by NickDouglas at 12:41 AM on December 31, 2004

Sounds great, but iodine tablets seem about as simple to transport...
posted by shepd at 1:42 AM on December 31, 2004

POYP you are absolutely correct - the logistics are a nightmare and resupply is the problem. I think the point is - furtive - that you can only buy water for 25 cents if there is somewhere to buy it (or have it distributed) from. In many areas there is literally nothing left standing and the numbers of people needing fresh water are huge.

It doesn't have to be an either/or solution. By all means ship bottles full, but then have the advice on the ground to replenish them. Given the choice between suspect water and SODIS, I will sure as hell try it.
posted by Cancergiggles at 2:20 AM on December 31, 2004

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