Theme 2: How do programs promote HWTS and ensure that the government continues to supply improved drinking water sources

michael commeh - Wednesday 17 May 2006

hi everyone,
this is an existing moment/conference. thanks to susie murcott. more of these are needed. i hope my contribution make some sense here. this is our concern now and we are trying to sort it out at least scienticfically first all and see the way forward.-
Safe and Clean Drinking Water-Household Ceramic Water Filters Research, Development and Production II.

Introduction: Delivering his keynote address on the 15th December 2005 at the United States Information Service, Mr. Zubler Georg, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Ghana said that every human being needs regular supply of clean drinking water in order to survive but aside been in limited supply, water can also not be reproduced nor can be replaced.
He said that a UN report indicates that currently about one and a half billion people lack access to clean drinking water and greater percentage of this number are in remote rural and rapidly growing urban areas.

He mentioned that, in Ghana the 2003 Core Welfare Indicators survey indicated that only 57% of the rural poor have access to clean water. Altogether according to 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, only 16% of households in Ghana have access to pipe-borne water in their dwellings, yards and plots.

He stated that although Ghana is blessed with many water resources, most of these sources are in different state of pollution and degradation. Studies by Water Resources Commission indicate that only 6% of Ghana’s water resources are unpolluted or recovering from pollution. 67% are either of poor quality or grossly polluted as a result of the discharge of untreated or only partially treated wastewater and solids into surface drains and watercourses.

He said since water-borne diseases are responsible for 80% of illness, providing safe drinking water and proper sanitation is therefore a high priority for most Governments, International Agencies and NGOs in developing countries. One of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals is to half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. It is estimated that providing safe drinking water and proper sanitation to everyone in the world by 2025 will cost USD 180 billion a year, two to three times the amount invested at present. He said it has therefore become extremely important, to develop cost effective methods to ensure clean and safe drinking water to every household.

He lauded the effort made by Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC) to produce efficient and affordable household water filters from local materials for the provision of good drinking water for both rural and urban household in Ghana. He said it is to help solve the water problem in Ghana that is why the Swiss Embassy has decided to finance TCC’s Water Filter Project (Research, Development and production).

In conclusion, he expressed the hope that people in this country will value the environment and maintain its integrity and also change their attitudes towards the protection of water resources to ensure sustainable development of the country.

In the last technocratic edition, part one of the Nnsupa household ceramic filter was featured. The last edition dealt with problem statement and how Nsupa product was researched and developed. This edition which is the part two or better still the continuation of part one talks about other applications this Nnsupa filter is capable of. Before we start to talk about it capabilities let’s look at some scenarios.

We are told to boil our water before drinking. This is very true to the core when considering dangerous pathogens in the drinking water. But what about the soluble and insoluble in the drinking water that can not be removed by boiling? We have such chemicals as fluoride, arsenic and the likes found in our ground water, that course serious medical problems like teeth decay and cancer respectively. A typical example of such cases would be found at Agogo in the Ashanti region and Bongo in the Upper East region. Let also take sea water as another example. When sea water is boiled it becomes more salty with increasing time thus rendering it undrinkable.
We are told to wash our hands with soap, but how hygienic would it be when the water you are using, is biologically and chemically contaminated?

The two scenarios above go further to consolidate the earlier statement that” water can be safe but is it clean to drink? And can be clean but is it safe to drink?” The growing or grown interest in bole holes or wells construction by NGOs, individuals and the Ghana government, recently (with the aim of providing or supplying potable water) has prompted some of us scientist to begin, as early as possible, to look at the possible future effect of our ground on our health and to come out with sustainable solutions and policies. As earlier stated, data from Community Water and Sanitation department has shown the existence of fluoride and arsenic in some of our ground waters. There have been reports of salty water in our pipes as well especially along the coastal areas of Ghana. This leaves us with the question of how safe are we just using filters of any kind, with the aim of improving our drinking water safely in terms of pathogen exclusion alone? Many bole holes or wells have clean drinking water but they don’t show the presence of fluoride and the likes unless tested in the laboratory. This situation is very serious in Nepal, India and Bangladesh!

During raining season, most wells produce brown cloudy water making drinking difficult especially in the urban areas. In the rural areas such water have drunk for so long that no difference is observed or better still with the thinking of “in the absence of good bad is better”!
In some cases we have had Nnsupa turning black after one year, filtering just tap water in Accra. Investigation showed the presence of Manganese which turn black on oxidation.
What Nnsupa Ceramic Water filter Candle has been found to do

Currently results show the Nnsupa ceramic filter is capable of desalinating up 85 to 95% of our sea water. It is also capable of reducing fluoride up to 85%. Higher percentage of 98 and 99% can be achieved when the flow rate is reduced to 300ml/hr. With such flow rate two to four such special filters are needed in a container to make up.


Two hours soaking with very hot water

Cleanable Yes
Boilable Candle Yes
Scrubable with toothbrush Yes
Recommended Lifespan 12 months
Well/bole hole water, river, tap Yes
Pond water, drainage water Boil first

Reduce to safety Level

Bacteria/Pathogens ☻100%
Cysts ☻100%
Chlorine/Nitrates 85%
Rust and sediment ☻100%
Taste and odour ☻100%
Organic/Inorganic chemicals N/A
Desalinate Seawater ☻85-90%
Colloidal silver impregnated No
Heavy metals ☻100%
Arsenic Yet to be quantified. mark reduction though
Fluoride ☻85%

It is possible to produce household ceramic filters that can be acquired by each family. The filter is affordable, which could be sold at USD1.50. It can either be subsidized or be part of the health insurance scheme. A lot of campaign through various programme in the industry are being organized to introduce the household ceramic filters to every family.
The production, being done at the Technology Consultancy Centre will ensure the highest quality.
This product is hoped to solve water related sickness in terms of cost, quality and efficiency to both the government and the target group.

Future Research Developments and Dissemination

It has become imperative to really understand how the Nnsupa works, behaves and its limitations. We need to know it optimal operation level for us to achieve a very sustainable unique product. This actually part of what we call continuous product improvement. To this end e need to also understand the characteristics of our water bodies, try them on the filters and analyze into details what the filtered water composition is, as against the unfiltered water. For example atimes there is a thin layer on the surface of the Nnsupa ceramic filter. This is due to the exclusion of oxide/hydroxide/carbonates of metal or colloidal microbes that have cemented itself on the surface. With such a situation, the thin layer should be scraped off to make the filter perform efficiently.
Considering the time left to reach the MDG by 2015, frantic effort is needed from the government, NGOs, District Assemblies and the likes to get as many people access to the a filters system. One of the effective ways this can be done is the effective use of the National Health Insurance Scheme. NHIS can help people purchase 15 litre transparent filter system.


Of course this project wouldn’t have been possible had the Swiss Development not given us $15,000 to conduct the R&D and commercial production of the Nnsupa. Special thanks go to Dr. Peter Schweizer, the then Swiss Ambassador whose special interest and support saw the birth of the project. Stone foundry and Frimpong Engineering have been of a great help in getting the engineering works done. These small scale firms helped in the translation lf the technological theories into reality.Many thanks go to Mr. Bruce of Water and Sanitation, Civil Engineering department, Dr. Obiri-Danso of Biological Science, Dr Ampofo and staffs of Water Research Institute (C.S.I.R), Dr. Kwesi Darko of Nuguochi Memorial Research Institute and Ms Susan Mucott of Water and Sanitation, Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). for their support in the analysis of the efficiency of the filters. Of course TCC staffs are not forgotten. I must admit that these Professors also contributed immensely toward especially to Nnsupa achieving its additional goal of arsenic, fluoride etc. reduction. They are, Prof. F. Momade, Provost of College of Engineering and Prof. J.H. Ephraim, Dean of Post Graduates Studies. My utmost felt sincere thanks goes to Mr. & Mrs Ato DeGraft of College of Arts & Social Science, Mr. Eugene Bernice Larbi of TREND group, Dr Clarke and Mawuli Asempa both of Accra for their contribution in promoting the Nnsupa. Mrs. Kate Acquah I thank you very much too. Without all of you this research work would have been on the shelf. My sincere thanks finally go to Mr. Ben Andoh and his staff for publishing this project in the technocrat.

By: Michael Commeh
Research Follew

For information and bulk supply contact;

Organization: Technology Consultancy Centre
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology
Kumasi, Ashanti Region
Ghana, West Africa
Tel: 0244 794187 or 051 60296, 051 60297

Ghana candle filter

ron rivera - Sunday 21 May 2006

i... can I have a picture of your candle filter.

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