Reverse Osmosis here in Mtwapa!

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Last time I wrote on here, I briefly mentioned that the groundwater here is saline. It’s not good for drinking, yet most people drink it. Only the wealthy are able to consistently buy bottled mineral water.

As I was walking through town the other day, I saw a sign – ‘Dutch Water Limited’. As is my want whenever I see something with ‘water’ in it, I followed the sign and came to a gated compound with what looked like a factory inside. “Healthy drinking water for everybody” said the sign.

There was a lovely employee sat in the shade by the gate who shared the details with me. Dutch Water Limited are a for profit company, pumping around 25,000 litres of water out of the Mtwapa aquifer every day and purifying it for drinking. The process is long and complicated, but involves the state of the art process of reverse osmosis. Simply put, RV applies pressure to the saline water solution as it moves across a membrane, and enables salt and other impurities to be separated from the water molecules. With my breakfast this morning I have a cup of DWL water by my side and I can tell you it tastes good.

This discovery is in itself not amazing. A for profit company purifying water – this happens all over the world. The great bit is what they do with the water once its clean. I bought 10 litres for $0.64, enough to last our household four or five days, when used only for drinking. That’s cheap! You can buy one litre of mineral water in the shops for the same price. Not only that, but a percentage of the profits they make go to either expanding their facility (they have plans for a larger capacity plant by the sea) or into community projects. They also regularly deliver clean water to slum areas.

Sounds pretty good to me, and a great example of a private company investing in Kenya, providing local employment and contributing to the improved health of the local population.

Check out http://www.dwlwater.com/index_en.html for more details. I love innovative and ‘people centred’ technical approaches to the water crisis!

— Jack, TWP Program Director

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