2 minute read

Water Filtration in Northern Laos

Laos remains the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world, a result of the Vietnam war of the 60’s and early 70’s. While the impoverished country continues to recover from the devastating effects, the rural villages suffer from the basic necessities of life, specifically clean water to drink. Every rural village is affected and 100% of these villagers continue to suffer from diarrhea, even after boiling their water. Many of these villages are virtually cut-off from health-care and civilization during the monsoon rains. Water borne bacteria wreaks havoc with the immune systems and additional health problems result in shortened life spans, reduced productivity, poor attendance in schools, lower income, and infant mortality rates are significantly elevated. That was, until members from the Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise and Adopt A Village in Laos (an Ontario, Canada registered charity), stepped in to make positive change.

With the assistance from Rotarians (also on the board of Directors of Adopt A Village in Laos), and Rotarians from several Districts across Canada, thousands of family water filters have been distributed to more than 45 rural villages in mostly mountainous regions of Northern Laos, along with basic hygiene training. To date, approximately 25,000 rural villagers have been positively affected, with almost 5,000 ceramic-based water filters, distributed. Many of the villages are difficult to get to, let alone the transfer of filters. The results from clean water have been nothing less than astounding.

As explained by the village chiefs whenever we return to their village, diarrhea (caused by water borne bacteria) is no longer a factor or threat in daily living. Students rarely miss a day of school, meaning better education, more productivity in the rice fields are resulting in higher yields and more wealth. Hard earned money is not spent on healthcare for related ailments and infant mortality is almost non-existent. Life expectancies have also been on the rise over the last 10 years of our involvement. For the first time in their lives, there is disposable income, as noted when we see children playing with real toys, or eating ice cream. As a further positive change, the villagers no longer need to waste valuable wood to boil the water every few hours, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.

Whitby Sunrise Rotarians distributing water filters to families in remote villages of Laos.
Whitby Sunrise Rotarian Steve Rutledge teaching safe hand washing, food preparation, and proper care of new water filters.