Solvatten: Where Technology Meets Solar and Water How one Swedish company is making water safer with tech and some sunshine

In the capital city of Kenya, the East African tech and investment hub, with multiple skyscrapers and over 3 million people; water is still rationed. Believe it or not the African metropolitan still faces multiple issues with consistent clean water running through its taps. It is not uncommon to see a local vendor with containers full of water circling estates, especially during a dry or rainy season. However ironic that sounds, breaking banks and overflowing dams does not guarantee the residents of Nairobi or any part of the country clean water at any given time of the day.

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The county government is trying to solve the problem by holding suppliers and water providers accountable, but in other parts of the country; the problems are far from over. However, there are constant innovative minds working round the clock to build technology then can implement to help elevate the problem of water scarcity. Water, one of the most precious commodities in the world is still rare even though it is a natural resource.

Today nearly one billion people lack access to safe water, with that number coming to approximately 844 million. This means that they are exposed to water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. At any given time, at least 2.7 billion people experience water scarcity for at least a month every year. Now, thanks to a Swedish social enterprise by the name of Solvatten, they have combined technology and a portable water treatment and heating system to make a solar-powered jerry can.

This idea is the brainchild of Swedish environmentalist Petra Wadstrom, who came up with the idea when she witnessed Indonesian women and children getting sick from drinking contaminated water. They got waterborne diseases as a result. Founder of Solvatten, Ms. Wadstrom said she was inspired to give women the opportunity to become independent and take control of their lives. Although they might not get a source of clean water, they could eventually purify the water for consumption, and domestic use.

Solvatten means ‘sun water’ and it works with simple and practical technology. The jerry can which has a capacity of ten liters, or rather a pair of two five-liter containers are filled with water first. This done via an opening that has a fabric filter, to filter out impurities. Once filled, the five-liter pair opens up like a book and it is placed under the sun. Each jerry can have a transparent acrylic surface that lets in ultraviolet sun rays to eradicate the formation of linkages between microorganisms; hence preventing them from multiple and as a result of eliminating them completely.

The entire purification process can take between two to six hours for the water to reach a temperature high of 75 degrees Celsius and then a smiley indicator by the side of the jerry can let the user know when the whole process is done. The smiley goes from red in a frown to green with a smile. The Solvatten solar heating container is available in Kenya. They were brought in as a result of Solvatten working with local NGOs and charities to curb the water and sanitation crisis in the country. Most especially in the hard-hit areas of the semi-arid and arid lands in northeastern Kenya.

The solar-powered jerry can water purifier is available in over 20 countries globally, and the majority of them are on the African continent. The water purifier has also helped to reduce the amount of firewood being used to heat water to boiling point for purification, which in poor communities can go along the way as fuel for the families’ other domestic uses. It has also reduced the use of charcoal, which curbs air pollution as well. Solving the problem of contracting respiratory diseases early.

The usefulness of the Solvatten jerry cans has gone beyond safe water for drinking. It has also enabled homes to have better hygiene, improved health and ultimately the quality of life of the users.

Source: Ventures Africa

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