Clean Water Inventions Series31 August 2015
LifeStraw - it's a real lifesaver
In this latest instalment of the Clean Water Inventions Series, we look at an incredible portable water purifier designed to give the world’s poorest populations access to clean water.
Imagine having to drink water from a toilet. Well, in many parts of the world, drinking water is not much better than toilet water quality. But with no other option, many simply drink dirty water. As a result, about 1.5 million children die of diarrhoea each year.
Boiling can kill most germs in water, but it still requires fuel and doesn’t remove dirt. In recent years, sand and ceramic filters have become more common, but these tend to be expensive and usually don’t catch all the bacteria and microbes. It was this need for a better solution that was the motivation for the development of a portable personal water purifier called LifeStraw.
LifeStraw has been created by the Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen. The personal version works like a chunky drinking straw and can filter about 1,000 litres, enough to keep a person hydrated for a year while keeping out harmful bacteria and viruses. The family version – which looks something like an IV drip that ends in a water cannon – can purify 18,000 litres, serving a typical family for about three years.
LifeStraw products filter out poisonous bacteria, viruses and protozoa through layers of porous fibre, which are designed to trap everything but clean water. And best of all, its small size means that it can be carried easily over large distances – for when water is extremely scarce.
LifeStraw products have been provided to assist after disasters like the Haitian earthquake and in chronically poor countries like Mozambique.
This year, nearly one million of the family-size LifeStraws have been donated in Kenya alone. Now that’s an idea worth celebrating.