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Safe water for Togo

In Togo, Western Africa, solar energy is used to pasteurize drinking water, so that level of harmful substances is reduced. Heating the water to more than 65 degrees will kill the worst parasites. Results from the project shows reduced level of illness from unsafe drinking water in the pilot region Vo. The project is realized with our partner organization Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE).

The main aim of this project is to develop, test and implement methods for solar-powered pasteurization of drinking water, thus building the capacity of schools and village female population helping them to improve their role in the development of their society. Solar pasteurization will give health benefits by keeping common water-borne microbes below the level where it causes diseases. Drinking safe water in schools will thus reduce the chance for getting infected. If safe water could be provided at home as well, the problem would be nearly solved.

JVE has established close cooperation with schools and villages in the Vo district, a prefecture located in the Maritime Region of Togo. In 2007, 15 villages have been involved. JVE has been continuously working with improvement of the technical design of the solar cooker. However, finding easy available and appropriate materials for building of solar cookers has proved difficult in Togo. Materials had to be imported from outside Togo and have caused some delays. As for schools and hospitals supply, JVE has cooperated with the ESACO international, which has developed simpler cookers and heaters for schools and hospitals. 10 different types of cookers are bought for testing and distribution in 2008. JVE has conducted training for women groups in 15 villages, of which 10 villages follow up with the work actively. JVE has visited the villages regularly through the year. More than 430 solar devices have been built and distributed.

The project participants have received solar devices for free. JVE has in addition to the practical work on water pasteurization worked on campaigns for behavioral changes in the villages and regional and national media activities. An international solar cooking workshop was held in Lome with participation for five neighbouring countries. Smaller groups in these countries has also stated to experiment with different technologies for solar pasteurization and solar cooking.

The main findings were that the project makes a significant difference in terms of health, social development and nature protection. Simple measures provided by the project have indicated a real impact on the families, on knowledge of women which has been substantially improved, and that interest among local authorities is present. In all the villages with the trainings, the awareness on water quality and preventive measures has been raised. Local health stations report on fewer incidents of illnesses linked to unsafe water. Women’s knowledge on the critical issues as climate change, energy efficiency, and the role of women in preserving the environment as well as their social status has been improved. JVE has straightened their international network, which is essential for exchanging experience with other organizations with the same direction. The use of pasteurizers/cookers has less impact on the local nature, since consumption of firewood for boiling and cooking is substantially reduced.