As the global community celebrated World Water Day on Sunday, many eyes were on the Middle East. The region’s ongoing water crisis is a cause for serious economic, political, and – most importantly – humanitarian concern.
So it’s great to hear that, as one of many possible solutions to the ongoing scarcity, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) introduced a kit designed to treat and reuse household wastewater at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey.
The kit, which will mainly benefit rural areas of the Middle East and North Africa, will treat grey water, non-industrial wastewater that comes from dish washing, laundry, and bathing, and comprises 50-80 percent of domestic water consumption.
Hammou Laamrani, project coordinator for the IDRC’s Regional Water Demand Initiative, told IRIN News, “It is a very simple, easy to manipulate, inexpensive water treatment kit which can be handled without special training and technological skills, and can be used in the context of poor and marginalized communities.”
The kit includes two four-foot (1.2 meter) barrels containing up to 52 gallons (200 liters) of water, pipes, and sand. After passing through filters that remove bits of small food or other debris, the water passes through sand, where anaerobic digestion removes pathogens like E.coli and parasite eggs that could create health hazards.
Although the recycled water can’t be used to wash vegetables that are eaten raw, like cucumbers and tomatoes, it is suitable for “productive purposes” like irrigation or for flushing toilets. The system also reduces the amount of water that flows into cesspits, lowering the costs of emptying the cesspits because they don’t have to be cleaned quite as often.
“The cost of the kit is $300-400, and in some cases even less depending on the price of components in any given market. If you take into account the productive use of the treated waste water and the reduced frequency of cesspit evacuation, outlay costs can be recouped in a year in places like Jordan and Lebanon,” Mr. Laamrani explained. He also said IDRC has projects in the Palestinian Territories and Yemen.
Despite the enthusiasm surrounding the kit, some researchers still say more research is needed before they can recommend household water treatment systems like this one to policymakers.
Mr. Laamrani emphasized, however, that there is no single solution to the regional water problems, so “all options should be kept open.”
:: IRIN News
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