Biosand filter provides safe drinking water for Derin during drought

The Derin community in the Trans-Gogol area of Madang is having access to and enjoying purified and clean water despite water shortage caused by the present El Nino-induced drought in the area.


Derin councilor and model farmer Peter Kunou with his biosand filter

The ’biosand filter’ technology, introduced by BUKO and NARI through this project to help the rural community having access to clean water during water shortage as a result of extreme climatic conditions, has proven worthwhile for households in Derin.

All sources of clean drinking water and even creeks have dried up due to the prolonged dry spell but the Ward 9 community is able to get clean and purified water for drinking and other household chores, says Peter Kunou, Ward 9 village councilor.

Kunou said on November 2 that his community is fortunate to use biosand filters developed locally 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.

Besides interventions on food crops and livestock, the water purification process was demonstrated to the community and over 20 households have adopted the concept so far and are now using it for their water requirements. Derin is one of the seven project sites in PNG.

“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.

Dominik Ruffeis, the BUKO water expert who was behind the biosand filter technology under the project, said water harvesting methods – wells and tanks – have also been established to give the community options in accessing safe drinking water. Ruffeis added that when tanks are used up during dry seasons, people can use the biosand filter to purify unsafe water for consumption.


Derin councilor and model farmer Peter Kunou with his biosand filter

The filter comprises layers of sand and gravel of different sizes packed in a brick column. When contaminated water is poured into the inlet, it goes through the layers, leaving a clean and purified water through the outlet. All pathogens get trapped or stuck in the sand as they are too big to fit through. The pathogens die when:- they cannot get away, there isn’t enough food or air for them or they eat each other.

The entire Ward 9 community spoke highly of the intervention as it has benefited them greatly.

A mother, Alis Opam, thanked the project saying the biosand filter process was important for the health and hygiene of mothers and children in the community.