By offering alternative technologies in water and energy, PRACTICA not only contributes to reaching the Millennium Development Goals in conventional ways, but more importantly, it offers tools to reach the MDG’s more cost-effectively. New locally adapted and cost-effective technologies can optimize the effects of invested money, while the market approach makes sure the investments are sustainable.
Below is an overview of the link between the activities in the 2007-2015 program and the attainment of different Millennium Development Goals.
‘Productive’ water reduces poverty. Safe drinking water is essential for health, but access to “plenty” of water increases income, especially for rural families. A communal pump provides “just” drinking water, but a household pump will generate money through animal husbandry or small-scale irrigation too. Surveys in Nicaragua indicate that poor families in possession of a well generate twice as much income than families without a well and that a US$ 60 hand pump for domestic purposes, generates US$ 220 extra income per year.
Widespread application of low cost irrigation systems for small farmers can double food production and reduce poverty. In the past, water technologies were hardly affordable for poor families. Now, there are wells as cheap as US$10, pumps for US$20 and drip irrigation for US$100/Ha. Naturally, not all low-cost options are applicable everywhere but there is much more scope for these options than applied so far. To be sustainable, the introduction of new options has to go hand in hand with education on water conservation, marketing and agricultural aspects.
The major cause of diarrhoea is unhygienic living conditions and lack of access to safe drinking water. Point of use water treatment can reduce mortality rate at a low cost.
Modern low cost options to treat water at household level include ceramic filters, solar disinfection (SODIS) and flocculants / disinfectants. Ceramic filters have filtering elements in the shape of a candle, a disk or a pot. Shifting from candle to pot-shaped elements in Nicaragua, has resulted in easier maintenance and cheaper, local production of ceramic filters producing water that complies with WHO guidelines for turbidity and bacteria.
Production of potable water with this filter costs around US$ 0.5 per 1000 litres. The 150,000 CSP filters produced so far serve 750.000 people and cost around 3-4 dollar per capita. Organisations such as UNICEF, and CARE have introduced this filter in their programmes in Central America and Asia, using local skills and materials. Profit based production and sales are a guarantee for economic sustainability. PRACTICA will promote and support the local production of low cost and effective ceramic water filters in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Mozambique and Zambia.
Water wells are constructed by hand digging, hand drilling or machine drilling. Making (small diameter) tube wells manually is significantly cheaper and safer than digging large holes by hand. Manual tools to make tube wells, such as augers and bailers, only work in soft soil formations. New improved drilling technologies promoted by PRACTICA (Baptist, rota-sludge, and stone hammering drilling) have reduced costs and can penetrate in medium-hard soil formations. In Bolivia family water systems cost around US$ 50 only, including a 20 m deep well drilled with the Baptist method, and a PVC hand pump. In Tanzania, the cost of wells in the Njombe region have been reduced from US$ 2,000 to US $ 300 by shifting from the use of machine drilling rigs to manual Rota-sludge and stone-hammer drilling.
The VLOM approach (Village Level Operation and Maintenance management) reduces maintenance problems with hand pumps for rural water supply. However, many of the hand pumps in Africa remain defect after they break down, often because the maintenance is too complicated and/or costly in the local situation. Experiences in Latin America and Africa have shown that problems can be reduced by switching to different technologies that require considerably less maintenance. In addition the track-record on maintenance of household systems is considerably better.
Introduction of new technologies goes hand in hand with training and the set-up of local production. Experience with training is that young people are eager to produce the new products and work with new technologies. They also form a good channel to produce and market the technologies and to promote and disseminate the new techniques. Especially with new products, technologies and techniques, new market segments can be opened and the heavy competition that is often present with regard to the common products and professions avoided.
The products are produced by local entrepreneurs, generating thus incomes, sales of materials and products, etc. In short these activities lead to business development and have a multiplier effect. PRACTICA has trained local entrepreneurs in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Madagascar, and will continue to do so in the future.
For more information, also check the official UN Millennium Development Goals website.