The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is ramping up the production of low-cost ceramic water filter to be distributed to the typhoon-affected families in Leyte province.
The effort is part of the DOST-wide relief project for Visayas is dubbed “Sulong Tabang” or S&T sa Visayas. Tabang is the Visayan word for “help.”
Clay pots for safe water
Workers are creating the clay pots 24/7 at the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) laboratory to help meet the demands for distribution of the water filters to areas affected by Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, that flattened most of the Visayas region with its 195 mph of winds and storm surge of up to 6m in height in some parts such as Taclobab.
Most areas along the path of Yolanda were reduced to rubbles, with only a few structures left standing. Power, communication lines, and sanitation facilities were affected with full restoration said to take weeks from now.
The locally developed ceramic water filter was deployed two years ago by DOST ITDI at a local resettlement community by the National Housing Authority. It uses clay with special nanomaterials to help filter water impurities and bacteria-causing organisms such as E. coli and coliform, says local nanomaterials scientist Dr. Aida Dela Rosa who also heads the team producing the filter.
Initially, some 10,000 units of the pot-type water filters were shipped to DOST's regional hub in Cebu to be later transported to Palo and Tacloban in Leyte. Most of the water filters will be used by some 400 families or some 2,000 persons.
Safe drinking water has been in limited supply in areas affected by Haiyan. Some had to make do with brown water coming from deep wells to survive weeks after the typhoon. This is the reason why DOST focused on a long-term intervention by providing evacuees access to potable water.
According to Nonoy Fajardo, UNICEF disaster and emergency specialist, the limited or lack of access to potable water is a common issue after disaster. This is especially a health issue for children in evacuation camps who are prone to contract diarrhea and other water-borne disease.
The filters made up of red clay and anti-microbial nanoparticles help purify untreated water—tap, deep well, pond or spring water—to make it safe for safe drinking, explains Dr. Dela Rosa.
The microbial test results for the water samples purified using the water filter tested negative both for coliform and E. coli, making it safe to drink, adds Dr. Dela Rosa.
Each 1.5L and 6L pot filter can purify between 48 and 73 liters of water over a 24-hour period based on their water flow rate. A ceramic clay pot costs between P165 to P215.
P2 million for families encamped at PSHS
For over three weeks now, the DOST via the Philippine Science High School Eastern Visayas Campus in Palo, Leyte, has adopted 400 displaced families in the area, noted DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, who also hails from Leyte province.
Motejo noted that everyone in DOST is keen on helping the Filipinos in Visayas and the use of local technology such as the ceramic water filter is only the first of many interventions that the agency will help provide for the typhoon survivors.
Under the Sulong Tabang sa Visayas project, DOST is also aiming to raise P2 million in funds to support the families in rebuilding their homes and getting back their livelihood.
To know more about the DOST relief efforts, visit the Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SulongTabangVisayas). For details and inquiries on donations, please contact the office of Dr. Carol Yorobe, Undersecretary for Regional Operations via (02) 837-2944 and 837-7974.