Friendly Water for the World seeks to expand global access to low-cost clean water technologies and information about health and sanitation through knowledge-sharing, community-building, peacemaking, and sustainability. Website: friendlywater.org.
Friendly Water for the World has started a new Water Security program that uses local mason and support teams to site, construct, and maintain 50 25,000-liter curved-brick rainwater catchment tanks to provide over one million liters of clean water for 13 schools, a clinic, and a market in Matsakha, Kenya. This program is built on the many small successes of the first two programs with the community.
Good Hygiene, the first program, has seen the production of almost 6,000 liters of Meta soap, achieved national certification, and helped battle COVID-19. Building Better, the second program, has resulted in the training of local community members in the fabrication of 11,000 (and counting) interlocking stabilized soil blocks.
Each 25,000-liter curved-brick tank costs $1,600, a 60 percent savings over the cost of a commercial plastic tank. And $600 of that cost is local labor—labor that will generate an income for Matsakha masons, thereby creating a direct economic benefit for the people of Matsakha. The new Water Security program will eliminate people having to drink water from contaminated wells or rivers. Students will no longer have to walk for water during school hours to provide for their classmates. People will be able to wash their hands—with soap—before meals and after latrine use. And the program will result in a substantial employment boost in the community.
Friendly Water for the World has branched out to work with communities on implementing multiple water-centered technologies, including BioSand water filters, rainwater catchments, MicroFlush toilets, interlocking stabilized soil blocks, multipurpose soap, rocket stoves, and permagardens. Critical to Friendly Water’s work is that communities get to prioritize the programs they wish to pursue.
Recently, in Matsakha, Kenya, more than 100 people, including the leaders of ten different villages (most of whom had never met each other before) came together for three full days of community engagement activities. Through a process of appreciative inquiry, they were able to enumerate the community assets they could bring to any undertaking and evaluate which technologies best fit their community (they want all of them). They then formed their own development group and chose to start with multipurpose soap.
Schools are reopening, but many lack a source for clean water and have limited or poor-quality soap for handwashing, both critical in times of COVID-19. Community members are now trained to make soap, and they are utilizing a sustainability plan mutually developed by all the program partners. Friendly Water is planning to partner with the people of Matsakha on more technologies, such as building their own rainwater catchment tanks that connect to their school buildings and provide schools with their own source of water for the first time.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendly Water for the World initiated a series of “Friendly Chats” on Friday afternoons to keep friends, supporters, and partners around the world connected to each other. Participants came from throughout the world, from New Zealand to Tanzania to Wales.
The one-hour chats have covered low-cost, appropriate technologies that are part of the organization’s platform: BioSand water filters, rainwater catchment/ferro-cement tanks, interlocking soil stabilized bricks, permagardens, and rocket stoves. Other chats included the deployment of these technologies in programs and projects in Asia and Africa. Still others highlighted community engagement efforts, the causes and impacts of waterborne illnesses, and the history of Friendly Water’s efforts. There have also been COVID-19 check-ins with communities far and wide. The chats, which are open to everyone, will continue to be held on the last Friday of the month at 12 noon, Pacific Time.
Clean water and soap are critical in the fight against COVID-19, and many communities around the world lack access to one or both. Friendly Water has been training communities to manufacture their own liquid soap alongside BioSand filters, and to distribute it to orphanages and schools.