3 Changemaking Water Projects Improve Health & Sanitation in Rural Rwanda, Madagascar and India

rural water tap india photo

The type of water conditions these programs are attempting to address, photo: McKay Savage.

Last week a new water and sanitation program was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative that's so large it got dubbed a 'mega-commitment'. One of the groups participating in the initiative is Global Water Challenge; and after one long day of plenary sessions, working groups and 'round the coffee cart chatting I had a chance to sit down with GWC Executive Director Paul Faeth to ask him about some of the innovative entrepreneurial water projects being funded through the Changemakers competition, with which GWC has been involved. I asked him to pick three out of all the worthy projects in development to highlight for TreeHugger readers:Community-Based For-Profit Projects Work
Before diving into descriptions of any of these projects, Faeth pointed out that after five years some 40-60% of rural water and sanitation projects fail. Under many aid programs the local capacity needed to do maintenance and repair on the facilities isn't developed, little money is generated to fund these repairs, etc. But by using a community-based for-profit model, such as all of these use, similar development projects have a greater chance of succeeding.

photo: Manna Energy Foundation
Manna Energy Foundation: Clean Water & Biogas in Rwanda
The Manna Energy Foundation is a Houston-based company aiming to install 500 water treatment systems for secondary school in Rwanda. The doubly interesting aspect of the program is that in addition to supplying clean water to some 236,000 students, it will also be installing biogas generators. These waste-to-energy system will generate clean energy, earning an estimated $70 million in revenue in three years through selling carbon credits into the EU market.

GWC's promotional literature describes the project more fully:

The water treatment plants will be gravity filtration systems with a pass under solar-powered ultraviolet light which together bacterially decontaminate the water, making it safe for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene. The biogas generators will take human and kitchen waste and capture the waste methane. The methane is then provided as fuel for high efficiency cook stoves. [...]

Manna will apply UN carbon emission reductions for the treatment of this water. It is the first organization to attempt to do this based on the premise that a liter of water is treated is a liter of water that no longer "should" be boiled [TH note: and energy expended in doing so] for an equivalent public health increase.

More on Manna Energy, :: Developing Another World in Rural Rwanda.

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