A low-tech water filter is providing a convenient source of safe water for many Sri Lankans, particularly survivors of the 2004 tsunami.
The filter consists of a clay pot strengthened with ground paddy husk and coated with colloidal silver to strain out virtually all harmful bacteria and parasites. It can hold eight litres of water and is fitted with a tap at its base.
Because people don't have to boil water to make it safe, they save on fuel costs. And levels of disease have been cut, particularly water-borne diarrhoeal disease.
The filter was mass-produced in Nicaragua and used in emergency relief operations after the Hurricane Mitch disaster in 1998.
The American Red Cross began production of the clay filter in Sri Lanka in January 2007 and has distributed some 10,000 units so far, benefitting an estimated 50,000 Sri Lankans.
After the filter is distributed in the community, the water quality is tested using a bacteriological field-testing kit during follow-up visits.
A manufacturing plant turns out some 1,000 clay filters a month, and there are plans to increase production. The water filters were distributed at no cost up to now, but they will soon be available at an affordable price to wholesale or retail buyers.