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Assess to clean water and sanitation is human basic need and right. Many households in both urban and rural settings in Kenya face the challenge of not accessing water that is safe for domestic use and consumption. The Institute of Water and Environment Management (IEWM) main goal is capacity building for effective water and resource management, which is achieved through training and skills development, knowledge sharing and technology transfer. Through this, we partnered with the Lions Club Vienna Belvedere, HELIOZ where we have started a WADI promotion initiative in Kibera, Kajiado and Kericho, Kenya.
The livelihoods of these communities have been impressively impacted through the introduction of the WADI project. WADI is a solar powered UV-measurement device which uses Solar Water Disinfection process to purify water safe for drinking. Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) describes a natural process, in which the UV-radiation of the sun inactivates harmful pathogens in the water. PET plastic bottles are filled with contaminated water then exposed to sunlight. The WADI device is placed next to the bottles and serves as an indicator for SODIS. Over time, the suns UV-radiation will make the contaminated water safe to drink. A happy smiley face on the WADI display indicates the point in time at which the UV-radiation of the sun has made the contaminated water in the PET bottles safe to drink. The SODIS method was researched and developed by the Swiss Water Research institute, and is approved and endorsed by WHO and UNICEF.
The project initiated in July 2017, where several households and schools in Kibera, Kericho and Kajiado were given the WADI devices. Thorough training of the locals on how to use the WADI and its effectiveness was done and several staff were posted by the IEWM on the ground to follow and manage the project. This was also made possible through partnerships with local organizations like SAVO Foundation based in Kibera. The impact of project on the living situation and health of the community members is immense. We sampled a few households and schools to evaluate the impact of the project on their lives. Since the introduction of the project, cases of water borne diseases have reduced. The communities have had financial and economic changes since the cost of buying water treatment chemicals, the cost of buying fuel for boiling water and purchase of medicine has also reduced since water is purified easily and efficiently as WADI uses solar which is absolutely free. Creation of awareness on unsafe water use was also conducted as many people did not know that they can get sick from consuming untreated water. The communities complemented the ease of using the WADI devices as they help save both time and cost in their use. The process was also environmental friendly as it helps reduce carbon emission as it has reduced the number of homes using fossil fuel to boil water for drinking.