Louisville, Ky.-based non-profit WaterStep is sending 100 of its M-100 water purifiers to Nepal to provide safe drinking water to communities affected by the recent earthquakes. Later this month, a team from WaterStep will travel to the Lalitpur district of Nepal to host free training sessions where representatives from more than a dozen organizations in seven different regions of Nepal will learn how to install and operate the water purification systems. After the training is completed, trainees will take the donated water purifiers back to the areas of devastation where thousands of people lack safe drinking water. Organizations interested in registering can do so online at www.waterstep.org/nepal-training.
The five-person team traveling to Nepal to conduct the training sessions includes WaterStep global partnership strategist and former councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, WaterStep volunteer David Stutz, WaterStep volunteer John Jordan, WaterStep partner in Costa Rica Mark Taylor and photojournalist Philip Andrews.
WaterStep has implemented this in-country training method for several years, including in 2014 when the organization responded to the typhoon in the Philippines, and it has proven successful and sustainable beyond the disaster. The M-100 water purification system is simple enough that virtually anyone can be taught how to use it, and thus it provides a long-term source of safe water, while most other efforts that require stockpiling bottled water, chlorine tablets, single-family filters or educated personnel to operate complicated purification systemsonly address the short-term need.
When the earthquake hit on April 25, WaterStep leaders immediately began strategizing on how to respond to the disaster and get safe water to the communities in Nepal. With the help of N.D. Lama, a Nepal native currently living in Louisville, WaterStep was able to establish a connection with a network of churches, disaster response groups and social organizations in Kathmandu, and secure a location to store their water equipment and conduct the training. Organizations that will send representatives to get trained and install water purifiers in the areas of devastation include the Institute for Theological Education by Extension in Nepal, Transformation Nepal, Nepal Lhomi Society, Nepal Biswabidhyalaya Christiya Bidhyarthi Sangati, Patan Koinonia Church, Cooperation for Integral Social Development, Asal Chhimeki Nepal, Nepal Janajagaran Party, Operation Mobilization, Shanti Nepal, Rescue Nepal, Bethel Church, Nepal Church Ministry, Samatin uplift service and Cooperation for Integral Social Development.
The M-100, which was developed with the help of volunteer engineers from General Electric and the Louisville Water Co., is a water purifier small enough to fit in a carry-on suitcase, yet powerful enough to provide safe water for thousands of people each day. It uses table salt and a 12-volt car battery, or solar panels, to simply and safely produce chlorine gas. When the gas is injected into contaminated water, it is highly effective in killing disease-causing pathogens and can produce up to 38,000 liters of safe water each day. WaterStep's M-100 is currently deployed in more than 25 countries around the world.
The Nepal relief project was funded with donations from the CE&S Foundation, as well as individual donors. Donations are still needed to implement the safe water projects in Nepal, and can be made online.