Cheap Tech Hikes Water Supply

Monday, March 13, 2006

Report argues for rethinking mega-water projects by focusing on low-cost technology.

By redirecting investments in water infrastructure to cheap, decentralized, and environmentally sustainable technologies, the world can meet the demand for water and energy in developing countries, according to a report released Monday. The report by the International Rivers Network (IRN) in Berkeley, California, estimates that reaching the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal of bringing 100 million small farming families out of extreme poverty through low-cost water technologies would cost approximately $20 billion over 10 years, less than a tenth of developing countries’ investment in large dams in the 1990s.

…The report cites several examples of low-cost technologies that yield high rewards and have the potential to revolutionize water availability…

Transforming Lives Pump Aid, from the United Kingdom, has modified an ancient Chinese design to develop a bicycle- or hand-powered water pump that can be built from local materials available in remote African villages. Because it costs an order of magnitude less than the cheapest alternative, it is already transforming lives in Zimbabwe and neighboring regions. A New Zealand-based organization, Empower, has developed Solar Powered Ozone Water Treatment Systems (SPOWTS). They reduce water-bottle litter and fuel wood use in the remote Himalayan region, which is home to thousands of trekking tourists every year. The system has not only reduced water-borne illnesses in the local population but has also created jobs in mountain communities.

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Source: Red Herring (link opens in a new window)