Ceramic Filters / Haiti / 2011

Introduction // Ceramic Filters

Project title: Improved low-cost ceramic water filters introduction in rural areas around Petit Goâve (Haiti)
Location of the action: Haiti
Lead manager and partners: Intermon Oxfam and University of Barcelona (coordinators)
Dates: 01/02/2011 to 01/02/2013
Donors: Intermon Oxfam (IO)
Amount contributed:
IO: 158000 euros
Personal Involved: Laura Guerrero, Alberto Ibañez, Marçal Trigo, Josep Mates and Rosina Girones

Objectives and results of the action:
Interventions to treat and to maintain the microbiological quality of the house water by Household Water Treatments (HWT) are between the most promising approaches to reduce the health impact of waterborne diseases. To assure the access to these technological solutions will contribute to health benefits complemented with other reinforcements in water, sanitation and hygiene.
Among several house water disinfection technologies that have shown microbiological effectiveness, the ceramics water filters (CWF) have been promoted actively like methods of water treatment of house in populations with low resources showing a high impact in health in the long term (Hunter, 2009).
The CWF is a flower pot-shaped, gravity flow, porous ceramic filter device intended to treat drinking water on the household scale. Water is poured through the porous ceramic pot into a receiving container that stores treated water, with the treated water dispensed via a tap.
The production of ceramic water filtration devices at the local level in developing countries is made possible by the fact that the necessary materials and knowledge are widely available and relatively inexpensive, although adapting these to the production of a high quality, low-cost, economic and socially sustainable, and proven device to provide safe water and reduce diarrheal disease does require significant innovation and investment.
At the moment, more than 17 filter facilities has been established around the world by Potters for Peace, a NGO that give technical advice and assistance to local partners.
The most successful projects, Cambodia and Guatemala, have the common implementation plan of an NGO with health and marketing experience teaming with a group of potters/trained individuals to produce the filter.
The projects that have failed or stopped producing were those projects, where the facility is not integrated into the local networks, where the NGO focus was not health, and/or where there was no marketing capacity.
Previous experiences in Dominican Republic suggest that household-based water filters fabricated locally are acceptable by the population, and a portion of the population use the filters for at least 16 months after they received, purchasing their own replacement in many cases.
Field trials of the effectiveness of ceramic water filters in Cambodia over time showed a 46% reduction in diarrheal disease between filter users and non-users, a 2 log10 reduction average reduction of E.coli in drinking water (Brown and Sobsey, 2006).
The viral disinfection is still a remaining challenge that needs further research.
In recent investigations has been suggested that electric charges of the ceramic components could play an important role in the retention/inactivation of viruses presents in water (Brown, 2009).

Resources Development International in Cambodia (RDIC) now adds Laterite to its clay mix. Laterite, a material high in Fe oxides, the positive charges of the Fe oxides has demonstrated a removal action of the largely negatively charged viruses. Laboratory testing has shown a 1 log10 reduction in viruses (Brown, 2007).
However, this reduction might not be sufficient to protect consumers from viral infections.
In developing countries, gastroenteritis is a common cause of death in children < 5 years that can be linked to a wide variety of pathogens. Much of the gastroenteritis in children is caused by viruses belonging to four distinct families: rotaviruses, caliciviruses, astroviruses and adenoviruses. Recent estimates attribute 527 000 deaths in children less than five years of age to rotavirus diarrhoea annually. (MSF-Spain data about diarrhoea in Haiti)
More basic research on technologies is needed for viral removal to play major role in providing safe water.
In this project we will provide a platform for exchange and interaction between microbiological research and its sustainable application in developing countries; the provision of clean water to most vulnerable communities.

The proposal of our project is:

  • Evaluate the performance of different candidates of ceramic water filters and coatings against viral pathogens (surrogates and human pathogens). Local minerals in different concentrations at the clay mix will be tested in a pot-filter design.
    Models will be evaluated based on filtration flow, virological efficiency, ease of manufacture, availability of materials, final cost, contribution to artisan activity, and ease of distribution.
  • Those tests in laboratory will ensure a base line for a posterior field implementation.
  • The health impacts associated with using the technology will be evaluated using appropriate rigorous epidemiological methods (blinded, randomized trials).


- The proven sustainability of the program in other experiences (ceramic water filters implementation at household level).
- The previous evaluation of different candidates in composition (local materials) in order to increase viral removal.
- The rigorous protocols of safety that will be taken to ensure the quality of the product.
- The extra benefit of providing jobs and supporting local enterprises.
- The evaluation of health impact of our program after implementation.
- To study the possibility of scaling-up within the country after program’s evaluation.

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