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Judy Charnaud has been working in Oecusse, Timor Leste since 2001 with Australian NGO OzGREEN and their partner organisation GREEN TL which was set up in 2005.
GREEN TL and OzGREEN are not-for-profit organisations committed to addressing critical environmental issues by informed and active community participation in the building of a life-sustaining, equitable society.
Water Quality Testing
One of the major problems affecting the health and wellbeing of the people of Oecusse is the lack of potable water. Water borne diseases, dysentery, gastro-enteritis and diarrhoea, are endemic throughout the enclave. Since 2001 OzGREEN has been testing water sources and has found that 95% do not comply with World Health Organisation standards for clean drinking water, in fact many are considered too severely contaminated for human contact.
Using the DelAgua equipment to demonstrate faecal contamination of water samples has proven to be a powerful tool in showing the relationship between contaminated water and disease.
Providing Potable Water
In all the villages they work with, the number one chosen strategy is provision of potable water. Boiling water is not always an option due to lack of fuel, time constraints and the already heavy burden of daily chores. Many water filtration units on the market today are either too expensive, require technical expertise, rely on unavailable products such as chemicals or electricity and are not sturdy enough to last long term.
To meet these specifications they have designed small, household bio-sand filtration units. A bio sand filtration unit is simply a large container, (plastic barrel or cement tank) containing specific layers of pebbles, grit and fine sand. Water poured into the top of the unit slowly percolates through the sand and grit to a pipe in the bottom of the container. Hydrostatic pressure pushes the water up to the outlet tap from where it can be collected.
With use over a period of several weeks, microorganisms from the source water collect on the upper layer of fine sand to develop a bacterial layer which assists in the removal of pathogens by biological (anaerobic) processes.
GREEN TL has tested these in several villages and the results are excellent. Water testing consistently shows a 100% reduction in faecal coliforms and turbidity. Village women say “The water looks better, tastes better, cooks rice better and our children are healthier.”
“In all this time we have relied on three DelAgua Water Testing Kits and they have proven to be very reliable in the extreme conditions met in the isolated villages of Oecusse. I have trained several members of GREEN TL to use these kits and they are now very adept at using them!” – Judy
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