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Aid Group Designs System to Make Dirty Water Safe to Drink

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Each year more than two million people die from diseases caused by drinking dirty water. That is the estimate of the World Health Organization. Dirty water is a leading killer in developing countries. Most of the victims are children.

Diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and infectious hepatitis are all spread through unclean water by bacteria or viruses. Malaria, river blindness and dengue fever are spread by insects that lay their eggs in drinking water or live around water resources.

There are systems designed to make dirty water safe to drink. A group called Potters for Peace has developed a low-cost system for use by families. Potters for Peace is a non-governmental organization based in the United States and active in Central America. The system this group developed is called the Ceramic Water Purifier.

The purifier is a round container with a filter inside made of porous clay. Clay is hard earth. A process called firing strengthens it with intense heat. Porous means it still lets water flow through. But the clay acts as a filter. It traps harmful organisms. Also, the clay filter is painted with a substance called colloidal silver. Colloidal silver kills bacteria. It is used in water purification systems in many aircraft.

The purifier sits inside a larger container that catches and stores water as it flows through the filter. This larger container also protects the purifier from damage. The filter is supposed to be cleaned about once a month to make sure water is still able to flow through. Potters for Peace suggests that users replace the filter after a year.

Ceramic water purifiers are being used in developing countries around the world. They first became popular in Ecuador and Guatemala. Today they are being used throughout Central and South America, and in parts of Africa and Asia.

Ceramic water purifiers can help communities meet their water needs. But Potters for Peace says they can also help communities earn money. With a little training, local artists can produce and sell the containers that hold the purifier.

You can find out more about the Ceramic Water Purifier at the Potters for Peace Web site. That address is Again,

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. This is Steve Ember.