Hygienic issues related to livestock and free roaming animals pose an eminent threat to already contaminated water sources. Communities like Derin and Kopafo located in Transgogol, Madang Province and Bena Bena, Eastern Highland Province, face such challenges, especially during prolonged dry seasons.
Derin and Kopafo community members were trained in proper hygienic practices and suitable water supply and purification systems were identified. Amongst the selected options were water purification through application of biosandfilter and solar disinfection.
Biosand filter is used to purify contaminated water by filtering the water through layers of sand. During the process microorganisms get mechanically trapped and adsorbed by the sand particles and eventually eaten in the biolayer.
These processes significantly reduce the amount of microorganisms which can cause certain digestion disease.
The biosand filter technology has been well received by villagers and many stated that the filtered water tastes good.
Microbiological water quality tests conducted on-site convinced the villagers of the effectiveness of the biosand filters to reduce levels of contamination.
WADIS devices which measures solar radiation for solar disinfection, were also distributed to villagers. The contaminated water is filled in transparent bottles and exposed to sun light.
Solar radiation kills all bacteria inside the bottled water. The WADI device measures the solar radiation and indicates, when the process is completed.
The Derin community expressed great satisfaction with biosand filter, saying it helped them access clean and safe drinking water during the 2015 drought.
Derin village councilor Peter Kunou said all sources of fresh water and even creeks dried up due to the prolonged dry spell but his ward community was able to get clean and purified water, through the technology, for drinking and other household chores.Kunou said his community is fortunate to use biosand filters locally developed to filter and purify any unsafe water found in drains and dried up creeks in the village.
“What comes out of the purification process is clean water free from pathogens and dirt,” Kunou said.
Over 20 households in Derin own and use the technology.
“Instead of travelling long distances looking for clean water, we can now purify and consume any water found around the village and garden areas,” Kunou emphasized.
The entire Ward 9 community spoke highly of the intervention as it has benefited them greatly.
The interventions were introduced by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) through a regional project on climate change adaptation.
A mother, Alis Opam, thanked NARI saying the biosand filter process was important for the health and hygiene of mothers and children in the community.
The soil and water team of the project have been instrumental in assisting vulnerable communities in PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.