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Ceramic Water Purification

Land Use, Guatemala

In 1981 Guatemalan scientist Fernando Mazariego, as part of his studies at the Institute of Technology of Central America, developed the Ecofilter: a ceramic water purifier. Why? 80% of the people in Guatemala do not have access to potable water. They either drink contaminated water and suffer serious forms of diarrhea, or they use large amounts of gas and firewood to be able to boil the water.

Natural components

As opposed to regular water filters, the filter pot is made out of local natural
products: it consists a mixture of clay, water and sawdust. The inside of the pot is coated with a layer of colloidal silver, a natural anti-bacterial substance. A plastic bucket is put around the ceramic filterpot to capture the purified water and to be able to tap it from the bottom of the bucket. The filter can purify 22 gallons of water weekly, enough to provide a family of 5 or 6 persons.

Local production
Since it's invention, the filter-pot has been playing an important role in the countryside. Mazariego had deliberately chosen to keep his design simple and the filter made out of natural products. As a consequence, it has been relatively easy to start up production facilities. After hurricane Mitch  destroyed large areas in Central America, a great amount of factories have been put up with the support of NGO's. Nowadays the filter is being produced in over 14 countries, for example:  México, Cuba, Haití, Ghana, Nepal, Irak and Sudán. Altogether the Ecofilter has become an important instrument to prevent illness as well as deforestation.