Give the World Clean Water for $20B?

Cleaning up water at the source would be better than shipping water to areas that need it. (Photo: David Villa [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Michael Pritchard thinks we can give every person on the planet clean water for $20 billion.

We've spent 11 times that fighting our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.We spent over $700 billion in military foreign aid in 2008.

Pritchard is the inventor of the Lifesaver Bottle, an easy-to-use, ultra-fine water purifier that can turn the most polluted virus- and bacteria-laden water sterile, clean and completely drinkable.

The Lifesaver Bottle, and its big brother, a larger model, could go a long way towards solving one of the largest problems on the planet — access to clean water.

Right now when disaster strikes or famine sets in, we're forced to ship in pallets of water bottles or tankers of water to the people in need. Distributing the water presents a host of logistical problems that are solved by people who could be better spending their time on other aspects of the relief effort. Distributing water in one central location can even make things worse long term as it concetrates people into squalid refugee camps.

Instead of trucking in clean water from the outside, wouldn't it be better to give people the means to create their own? It's the whole teach a man to fish parable, only this time the man is processing dirty water into clean.

Billions of people around the world don't have access to clean water. They often suffer from ill health effects like diarrhea and waste hours of their day traveling to collect clean(er) water. Making their water problems go away would be a big step in building a better future for all of us.

Check out this great video of Pritchard talking about his work at TED.

The next time you turn on your faucet and draw a tall glass of clean water, just remember that what you're doing would be a luxury to a frighteningly large part of humanity.

Via [Treehugger]