Media centre


Press releases


Official statements

Fact sheets

Q&As and Commentaries


Photo stories

The OneMinutesJr



Contact information


UNICEF, UNC, WSP project awarded for drinking water treatment solution in Cambodia

Ceramic water filters help many Cambodian families in rural areas get access to safe and clean drinking water.

VIENNA, September 10, 2008—A study that offers ceramic water filters as a sustainable solution for rural drinking water treatment in Cambodia, funded by UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program and implemented by the University Of North Carolina School Of Public Health, today won the International Water Association (IWA) 2008 Project Innovation Award Grand Prize for Small Projects.

The goals of the study were to characterize the microbiological effectiveness and health impacts of the ceramic water purifier - a household-scale ceramic filtration technology - in target populations and to identify successes and potential challenges facing the scale-up and implementation of the technology.

“Results from the study suggest that the filters can significantly improve household water quality, offering up to 99.99 percent less E. coli in treated versus untreated water,” said WSP Cambodia Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist Jan-Willem Rosenboom.  “Households using the filter reported nearly half the instances of diarrhea as compared to control households without a filter.”

Other results from the study showed that filters may be used longer and more effectively by households when other water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions are bundled with the ceramic water purifier (CWP), access to replacement filters and spare parts is key to ensuring long-term success of CWP programs, and cost recovery is positively associated with continued use.

A Cambodian boy is drinking clean water from a ceramic water purifier.

“Ceramic filters have helped many families in rural Cambodia, especially those living in villages where the ground water has proven to be contaminated with arsenic.  Using these affordable filters, families can use surface water for drinking and cooking while continuing to use their contaminated wells for other purposes such as washing and gardening,” Dr Mao Saray, Director of Rural Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development, Cambodia.

“We know that biosand and ceramic filters and other household water treatment technologies make an enormous difference in the health of people who don’t have access to clean drinking water,” said Mark Sobsey, PhD, UNC professor of environmental sciences and engineering and principal investigator for the project.  “We have the technologies, but now it’s a matter of finding ways to get these technologies into communities and households, and have people adopt and use them effectively and sustainably.”

“The promotion of simple methods that allow people to treat their drinking water at home is a priority for UNICEF,” said Clarissa Brocklehurst, Chief of Water & Environmental Sanitation at UNICEF. “Evidence shows that this can significantly reduce the incidence of diarrheal diseases, and thus safeguard the health of children. We are proud of the partnership and delighted that it has been recognized through this award.”

The project innovation prizes were awarded here at a reception in conjunction with the World Water Congress and Exhibition ( ).

The Water and Sanitation Program is a global, multi-donor partnership administered by the World Bank to alleviate poverty by helping poor people gain sustained access to improved water and sanitation services.  Donors include Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the World Bank.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has the United States’ top ranked public school of public health. Its mission is to improve public health, promote individual well-being, and eliminate health disparities across North Carolina and around the world. The school’s environmental sciences and engineering department is unique in combining engineering and life sciences in a public health context, researching and teaching about air quality, human exposure to environmental contaminants, and sustainable water resources.

For more information, please contact:

UNICEF: New York:  Saira Saeed Khan +1 212 326 7224,

UNC Raleigh:  Ramona DuBose +1 919 966 7467,

WSP Jakarta:  Yosa Yuliarsa, +6221 5299 3003, +6281 5840 70650,

Washington:  Christopher Walsh, +1 202 473 4594 ,




 Email this article

unite for children