Thursday, November 8, 2012

United Nations hails western Kenya water project

A woman fetches water from a burst pipe. The LifeStraw Carbon for Water in Kenya project was named alongside eight others by the UN climate change secretariat as part of ‘lighthouse activities’ in developing countries. Photo/FILE

A woman fetches water from a burst pipe. The LifeStraw Carbon for Water in Kenya project was named alongside eight others by the UN climate change secretariat as part of ‘lighthouse activities’ in developing countries. Photo/FILE 

By DAVE OPIYO dopiyo@ke.nationmedia.com

An innovative project expected to deliver safe drinking water annually to 4.5 million people in western Kenya has been listed amongst projects to be backed by the UN’s Momentum for change initiative.

The LifeStraw Carbon for Water in Kenya project was named alongside eight others by the UN climate change secretariat as part of ‘lighthouse activities’ in developing countries either helping to curb greenhouse gas emissions or assist people adapt to climate change.

The nine activities will be showcased at special events at forthcoming climate change conference in Doha, Qatar to be held between November 26 and December 7 this year.

“We are very excited to showcase this year’s lighthouse activities as they demonstrate the commitment by communities, civil society organisations, local governments and private businesses to take concrete action to address climate change,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Mrs Christina Figueres in a statement

“The examples are inspiring and encouraging, not least for governments who have already set the course towards greater climate resilience, but who need to take the next essential steps to galvanize the speed and scope of climate action,” she added.

The projects were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change Initiative, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Two key criteria for the selection of the initiatives are that they have proven to be effective and have the potential to be replicated in other countries and communities,” read the UNFCCC statement.

LifeStraw is an instant microbiological water purifier.

Each LifeStraw Family water filter will purify at least 18,000 litres of water – enough to supply a family of five for three years.

The Carbon for Water program is registered for at least 10 years so the filters will be replaced as needed, at no cost to users, at services centres set up throughout the province.

Studies indicate that the product removes at least 99.9 per cent of all bacteria, viruses and parasites. It also removes dirt from water.

The technology has received wide acclaim, including being named 'One of the Ten Things that will Change the Way We Live' by Forbes Magazine, 'Best Invention of 2005' by Time Magazine, and 'Innovation of the Year' by Esquire Magazine.

The technology does not require electricity or batteries, making it ideal for use in many rural settings.

Those who receive the filter no longer need to treat water by boiling it using wood fuel – a traditional necessity that releases greenhouse gasses.

According to a brief by Vestergaard Frandsen, carbon emission reductions were reported at 1.4 million tons after the first six months of its launch in the country in 2011.

Annually, the activity is expected to reduce an estimated 2.7 million tons of carbon emissions.

“Research led by Oxford University is ongoing to evaluate the impact of the Lifestraw Family filter on diarrhoea, dysentery and dehydration among vulnerable populations including children under five and people living with HIV/AIDS,” read the brief.

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