Solar Safe Water
For Safe Water: Just add Sunshine
Solar Safe Water
For Safe Water: Just add Sunshine
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Everything starts with safe water. Rotary Clubs are using an innovative solar-powered water treatment kit to save lives and improve living conditions for families who desperately need access to safe water in Kenya. The ESRAG Europe initiative “Solar Safe Water” not only provides them with clean water, it also supports all seven of Rotary’s Areas of Focus in one single action. For a donation of $145, you can provide a Kenyan family a Solvatten solar water heater that will provide a family safe water for seven years. “Solvatten is one of the brightest examples of climate solutions that are making a real difference,” said Christiana Figueres, who served as Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC from 2010-16. Using a Solvatten heater to disinfect water promotes sustainable living by reducing families’ dependence on firewood and charcoal they previously needed to boil water. Not only does this technology reduce carbon emissions and disease-causing smoke exposure, it saves families money on fuel.
The Solar Safe Water technology purifies water by using solar energy and a Solvatten heater, a Swedish innovation which has won many awards including the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change Lighthouse Prize in 2015. After a few hours in the sun the water is free from waterborne bacteria that would otherwise cause stomach diseases such as dysentery and cholera. The water purification meets the World Health Organization’s highest-quality specifications for drinking water, and is more efficient than other purification methods, such as chlorine, in eliminating highly-resistant bacteria, viruses and parasites. The secret is the combination of UV (UVA and UVB) radiation and heating – up to 75°C or 167°F – which ensures the high level of disinfection. This makes the water perfect for drinking, cooking and hygiene purposes. It can be used up to four times a day.
How the Solvatten heater supports all of Rotary’s humanitarian goals: With just 2-6 hours in the sun, the heater provides a family with 10 liters of safe and hot water for cooking, washing and drinking. By reducing families’ need for wood or charcoal for fuel, it saves trees and habitats, and reduces CO2 emissions. By preventing waterborne disease, the family saves money on medical care. For mothers with newborns this can be crucial to survival. In off-grid areas, girls and women don’t have to collect fuel for cooking: instead they can spend more time in school or at paid work. Fewer sick days from waterborne disease also means fewer missed days at school or work. In all these ways the Solvatten strengthens the family’s health, wealth, equity, and local environmental conditions. Access to safe water prevents conflicts over scarce resources and promotes peace. Thus, this device advances all of Rotary’s Areas of Focus.
Solar Safe Water heaters have already benefited more than 450,000 people in 40 countries. Since 2017, Solvatten has been working with International Aid Services in the province of Tharaka-Nithi County. Here, the effects of climate change are already evident, with changing, irregular rain seasons and droughts affecting families’ small-scale farming and ability to provide for themselves. Lack of access to safe water and sustainable energy sources results in high cases of water and hygiene-related diseases in the area, especially among children, who are the most vulnerable.
With the Solar Safe Water initiative Rotary clubs and Rotarians can really make a difference. From August, 2021 until March, 2022, Rotary Clubs donated 153 Solvatten heaters to the project in Tharaka, enabling 840 people in need to get access to safe water. The Rotary partnership has already saved 7,630 trees and prevented 1,068 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Help us serve more people!
Your Rotary club can easily support families in the ongoing project in the Tharaka-Nithi area in Kenya. Each water heater provides safe water to a family for seven years. A donation of $145 per heater includes everything; heater, transportation, education, administration, and on-site help in an off-grid area in Africa. ESRAG’s Europe Chapter has set the goal for Rotary clubs and districts to donate 1,000 solar heaters.
ESRAG collaborates with the Solar Safe Foundation, a non-profit organization under the supervision of the Stockholm County Administrative Board. Solvatten, the company which produces the Solar Safe Water heaters, donates its surplus revenue over production costs to the Solar Safe Foundation. The implementing partner, International Aid Service, is a local non-profit organization working to support human rights.
You can also share these short videos with your club. The first describes the experience of a Kenyan mother, Josephine, before and after she got a Solvatten solar heater.
This video shows how the Kenya project prevents deforestation and benefits the climate.
And here’s a one-minute video posted by the UN about the project in Kenya.