20 June 2003

Tanzania: Filters Ease Safe Water Access

ACCESS to safe drinking water is essential for addressing poverty and health problems. But, experience has shown that a great majority of the people in Tanzania have limited access to clean water for domestic use, as well as adequate sanitation.

This is where a high quality and low-cost drinking water filter jointly developed by Merrywater Limited of Dar es Salaam and Katadyn of Switzerland comes in.

One advantage of the device - called Filta Poa - is that no chemicals are involved in filtering water. In addition, with its new water filtration technique, there is no longer the need to boil the water!

'Filta Poa' is, therefore, environment-friendly and, as such, is a way of reducing deforestation since boiling water before filtration requires a high consumption of charcoal or firewood.

An educational and promotional campaign for the product was launched in Dar es Salaam early this week, and will continue in various places in the city until next month.

One aim of the campaign - launched by Merrywater and DED, the German Development Services - is to raise people's awareness about the importance of safe drinking water for their health. That gives the population an opportunity to access safe and clean water by offering them low-cost filters.

The exercise includes distributing educational materials. Members of staff are available to explain the importance of clean drinking water to people.

"Our products span equipment for domestic use to large and highly technical industrial water treatment plants," said Henrik Nielsen, resident manager in Tanzania of Merrywater Limited.

According to Nielsen, Filta Poa filters about 20 litres of drinking water a day. The filter can last for about two years.

Merrywater has been supplying filters to food and beverage factories, hotels, camps, hospitals and dispensaries.

'Filta Poa' is a Swiss product manufactured by Katadyn. Merrywater have been representing Katadyn in Tanzania for the past 11 years.

Apart from being tested at various institutions and Universities in the US, Switzerland, Germany and other countries, the filter was also tested in Tanzania by the ministry of water at its laboratory.

Existing data on the incidence of water-borne disease - such as cholera, typhus, dysentery and worms - as well as other water-related diseases, indicate that these are mostly prevalent where people use contaminated water, or have little water for daily use.

According to the ministry of water and livestock development, such diseases account for over a half of the diseases affecting urban populations, and more than 80 per cent of Tanzania's rural population.

Although publicly-distributed water is treated at the point of intake, it is still difficult to guarantee drinking water quality at the point of use. According to the World Health Organisation, 85 per cent of all sicknesses in sub-Saharan Africa are caused by contaminated water.

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