Safe Water in Rural Vietnam – One Biosand Filter at a Time

CWS Vietnam | December 19, 2017

The biosand team carrying and installing biosand filter at Minh’s house (left). Photo: CWS

Minh and her daughter using the biosand filter. Photo: CWS

Chu Thi Minh, 35, is of Dao ethnicity and she lives in Yen Binh village, a very remote mountain district in northern Vietnam. There are four people in her family: her husband and their children, who are 7th and 5th graders. The family earns a living by growing rice, corn and cassava on a hill side near their home, but yield is low and so the family is quite as poor because they have no surplus to sell for cash to meet even basic living standards – like having safe water to drink.

In fact, the family drinks and cooks with water from a shallow well that Chu Thi Minh’s parents dug 15 years ago. The well’s upper part is brick; but, below ground there is no brick or cement lining. So, most of the year, the family pulls up buckets of muddy water and lets them sit until the dirt and other debris settle to the bottom; then they carefully use the water that is at least somewhat clear – though not necessarily clean or are. During heavy rains, which are prevalent for many months each year, the well water cannot be used at all; so, Minh carries buckets of water from her neighbors, who are good enough to share their water, for drinking and cooking.

Tired of her family’s situation, Minh was happy to hear about biosand water filtering from the village head and community health worker, who both had learned about biosand water filtration in a CWS hosted training course. Learning that the filter was low-cost, efficient and natural (no chemicals or electric pump needed!), Minh decided to register to buy one even though the cost was quite high for a family as poor as hers. So, she was especially happy to learn that the filter would be made locally by a CWS-trained biosand filter-making team in the commune, which would help keep the cost to about 600,000 Vietnamese Dong ($27).

Minh’s family got their filter in October along with in-person instruction about how to use and maintain it properly, which Minh does with pride to have water all the time that is not borrowed with great effort from a neighbor and that is clean, odorless and sediment free. Besides Minh, nine other Yen Binh families are now using biosand water filters, and they all appreciate the low-tech, cost-efficient solution to improving water quality in their village.

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