We founded Agua Yaku in 2008 with a focus on drilling water wells. We have had great success drilling hundreds of wells in dozens of communities, but we have been limited to where we can drill by geology, technology, and cash. Drilling water wells is expensive. We soon saw the need and felt the desire to provide clean water to every community in Bolivia regardless of whether or not we could drill a well nearby. Most people have access to some form of surface water in Bolivia, but surface water is almost always contaminated. We experimented with several techniques to filter and disinfected contaminated water. We tried bio-sand filters and we tried SODIS (solar water disinfection), but the effectiveness of both of these techniques is hampered by social and cultural factors that limit adoption rate. In 2013 we began promoting Sawyer “hollow fiber membrane” gravity water filters. Gravity filters work best in developing world contexts because most homes do not have indoor plumbing. We have been pleased with the efficiency and the adoption rate of this filtration technique.
Agua Yaku continues to drill water wells, but we are also promoting “point of use” water filtration to ensure that regardless of the water source (i.e. well, lake, stream, pond, rainwater, etc.), water consumed in the home will be clean and safe to drink. We have found that the new hollow fiber membrane technology seems to be the most cost effective and socially feasible way to bring clean water to people who need it. We have been using Sawyer brand filters up until this year. We have absolutely no complaints about the effectiveness of Sawyer filters. They are working great for us in Bolivia. However, we would like to reduce the cost of providing filters for several reasons: (1) if filters cost less, our donor dollars stretch further so we can help more families, and (2) if we can get the cost down low enough, even the poorest families will be able to afford to purchase their own filters on the open market and we will not have to rely so heavily on donations to provide access to clean water for everyone in Bolivia.
In order to reduce the cost of filter production and the final cost to consumers, Daniel Beams, the director of Agua Yaku, began a partnership with a new outdoor products company called Vitchelo to design and manufacture “AquaSiv”, a new modular hollow fiber membrane water filter kit. Daniel and his Vitchelo partners are working together closely to improve upon the efficiency of the current water filters on the market and to lower production and distribution costs. The end result will be high quality water filters at lower costs for consumers in the developing world. Hikers, backpackers, and emergency preppers in North America and Europe will be able to purchase AquaSiv on Amazon, but we will also be prioritizing distribution to Bolivia and everywhere else in the world where approximately 650 million people do not currently have access to clean safe drinking water.
Daniel traveled to Guangzhou, China, where his Vitchelo partner is based, for three weeks this spring to begin sourcing components and materials, and to line up manufacturing. The pictures included in this post show the design of filter casing. The AquaSiv modular system will be universally adaptable, easily fitting on the user’s specific needs; whether it is a faucet connection, a gravity system, or if it will be used for international travel or for outdoor recreation. We will be testing prototypes in the next couple of months and we will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital to cover initial production costs. We plan to have the filters available for sale before the end of 2016.
Please continue to follow this blog for updates on AquaSiv. Thank you for supporting Agua Yaku as we strive to provide clean water and to share the love of Christ with everyone in Bolivia and around the globe.