Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

Water purifier sachet
'effectively kills water germs'
  • Water purifier sachet 'effectively kills water germs'

Copyright: Flickr/Gates Foundation

Speed read

  • A water-purifying sachet has saved more than 32,000 lives, a report says

  • When stirred in water, the sachet releases a disinfectant which kills germs

  • It can help many Africans to access clean drinking water, an expert says

Shares

The sachet has purified more than six billion litres of water in about 70 developing countries, saving more than 32,000 lives, according to a report presented at the 246th meeting of the American Chemical Society in the United States on 8 September.

According to the WHO, around 760,000 children die yearly around the world from diarrhoea and developing countries are the most affected.

The water purifying sachet is designed to allow people to treat and drink water from a variety of sources such as open ponds, rivers and piped water that may not be safe to drink due to contamination and at low cost, says Allison Tummon Kamphuis, programme manager of the PG Childrens Safe Drinking Water (CSDW), a US-based non-profit organisation of Procter Gamble.

CSDW sells a packet at US$10 cents to non-profit organisations and humanitarian partners such as Population Services International, CARE International, Save the Children and World Vision.

Kamphuis adds that five clinical studies have shown that its use can reduce diarrhoeal illness in children aged less than five years by an average of 50 per cent.

The sachet, also called PG purifier of water, uses a water treatment chemical ferric sulphate to remove water contaminants and a calcium hypochlorite disinfectant to kill bacteria and viruses. Both chemicals are approved by the WHO.

The treatment process involves pouring powdered contents of one packet which weighs less than an ounce into a bucket of 10 litres of water, which is then stirred, allowed to settle and poured into a clean container.

When used as directed, the PG purifier of water removes 99 per cent of bacteria, viruses, and cysts, Kamphuis tells SciDev.Net.

The mini-water treatment plant in a packet was launched in 2004 in Haiti and Uganda and has so far been distributed through partners in 70 developing countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Such innovative solutions are instrumental in helping people in Sub-Saharan Africa who do not have access to clean drinking water, says Nico Elema, the regional programme manager at the NEPADs Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

The networks for water such as the African Ministers Council on Water could influence policies on water purification and are in an ideal position to act as a catalyst in providing clean water to millions of people, Elema tells SciDev.Net.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Nets Sub-Saharan Africa desk.

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.