There are currently 660 million people in the world without access to safe drinking water. There is enough fresh water on the planet for everybody, but due to insufficient financial resources, bad infrastructure and poor education, every year millions of people suffer diseases associated with unsafe water supply.
The United Nations, with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number six, aims at achieving by 2030 universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. According to the WHO definition, water is considered safe when it comes from an improved source, which is a source that is not exposed to fecal contamination.
Water obtained from an unsafe source, for example water from a pond, could have been exposed to fecal contamination. Even water from an improved source can become contaminated. Contaminated water can carry pathogens, and can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and polio. Diarrheal disease kills 502,000 people each year (ref. WHO).
Fecal-contaminated water can be treated to be made safe to drink. In communities without a central water treatment system, the treatment can be carried out at the households or at the point of collection. An effective approach for low-income countries is to use solar disinfection (SODIS).
A large body of evidence demonstrates that SODIS reduces childhood diarrhea and dysentery in rural and peri-urban communities, is responsible for significant improvements in child development and that is the most cost-effective technique available to low-income communities. Nevertheless SODIS remainsrarely adopted. One of the most frequently cited obstacles is the high workload and the small volume associated with using 2L PET bottles, which are typically the containers used.
However recent studies conducted by WATERSPOUTT partners (RCSI, CIEMAT-PSA, NUIM) conclusively demonstrated that transparent containers of volumes up to 20L are suitable for SODIS.
The central aim of WATERSPOUTT will be to research and develop a series of enhanced large-volume (20L) SODIS technological innovations which will assist thousands of households in each developing country to access safe drinking water.