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Myanmar, Republic of the Union of

Ceramic water filters improve water quality for rural communities in Myanmar

UNICEF Image: Myanmar, clean water, ceramic filters
© UNICEF Myanmar/2007/Win Naing
Ma Yu Yu Mon, 36, of Htan Ta Pin Township in Yangon, Myanmar, fills a plastic bucket with water through a ceramic filter provided by UNICEF.

By Sandar Linn

YANGON, Myanmar, 28 August 2007 – “I am not the only one who prefers to drink water from the tap of the blue bucket,” says Ma Eh Wah, a mother of two children who lives in A Pyin The Phyu village in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar.

In her community, where 58 households reside, most everyone – from cautious village elders to chattering schoolchildren – acknowledges that the blue buckets have brought about a definitive change in village life following the introduction of a UNICEF-supported water project.

“I received the whole set of Happy Family Water Systems this summer,” she says. “That includes the ceramic water filter, the blue plastic bucket, tap, cover, a brush and user instructions in Burmese.”

For many villagers, the ceramic water filter is a revolutionary development. Previously, they had to filter water through their clothing. “Filtering water through clothes had been used since my grandmom’s times,” Ma Eh Wah says, adding that the new method is much better.

“The water is free from impurities and larvae even when it reaches near the bottom of the bucket,” she notes.

3,000 filters distributed

The Happy Family Water System is part of an ongoing project started last year by UNICEF and a local non-governmental organization, the Community Development Association.

The project has brought appropriate water purification technology to the household level. A factory in Yangon has produced more than 3,000 ceramic water filters that have been distributed to villages and schools in places such as A Pyin The Phyu, where surface water is used as a major water source.

UNICEF Image: Myanmar, clean water, ceramic filters
© UNICEF Myanmar/2007/Win Naing
A worker files the edge of a ceramic water filter that has just been taken out of the moulding machine at the factory in Yangon.

During the rainy season, families in A Pyin The Phyu village use rainwater for drinking, and in the dry months they collect their water from a pond located a mile away.

“In Myanmar, more than 30 per cent of rural populations still depend on pathologically contaminated surface water such as ponds, rivers and streams,” says UNICEF Myanmar’s Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation, Waldemar Pickardt.

Keeping waterborne diseases at bay

With the ceramic filter, any particle or organism that is larger than 1 micron, the pore size of the filter, will be removed. Meanwhile, the colloidal silver applied to the filter’s surface eliminates bacteria or protozoa.

Both mechanisms contribute to the reduction of micro-organisms that cause waterborne diseases.

In a measure of the effort’s success, more than 85 per cent of households surveyed in the project area said they would be willing to invest their own resources for procurement of the filters. The survey also indicated that using the filters saves both time and money for families.

To meet more demand for ceramic water filters, UNICEF and its partners will continue to provide the technical and financial support needed for this initiative – and safe drinking water – to reach households throughout Myanmar.




August 2007:
UNICEF correspondent U Pe Tin Thein reports on efforts to bring ceramic water filters to communities in Yangon, Myanmar.
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