Zero emissions water filters in classrooms in Laos

Clean drinking water is a daily struggle in parts of Laos, the mountainous monastery-covered country landlocked between Vietnam and Thailand. Kids in remote areas drink out of puddles and broken PVC pipes. 87% of households in these areas lack access to clean water, 48% of schools across the country can’t provide healthy drinking water, and diarrhoea is the 3rd leading cause of death for kids under 5. 

A clean, refreshing glass of water is a luxury involving days spent collecting wood, boiling water and waiting for it to cool, or buying charcoal or bottled water, both of which can be prohibitively expensive for rural families.

I used to have to spend 30% of our total income on wood and charcoal each month to boil water. If we didn’t have enough money we didn’t boil water and would frequently get sick.

Terraclear filter recipient

Against these challenges, TerraClear, a local Lao company has been locally making and distributing zero-emissions water filters across the country. The filters are ceramic, removing harmful bacteria and contaminants from the water giving families a consistent source of clean water, without the need to boil it or buy it.

TerraClear places filters in schools and key locations within villages to help educate and increase access to clean water, while providing microfinancing and sweat equity schemes to families wanting to buy their own.

One filter can: 

  • provide a family 20-30L of water per day,
  • save a household USD$5-140 for every $1 invested (Lantagne, 2001), and
  • half the cases of diarrhea (UNICEF, 2006).

Plus there are Terraclear tunes! As part of the TerraKids initiative, trainers teach kids how to use the filter with songs and lessons about water and sanitation that they then bring home to teach their families. 1 filter in a classroom can provide 30 kids with up to 2L of clean drinking water each per day.

A few months ago, we purchased a filter from Mr Boonyong. He is letting us pay for it over 6 months and now we have clean water available all the time. My children’s health has improved and I will be able to use the money I save from buying charcoal and medicine to raise chickens and increase our family’s income.

Terraclear filter recipient

Terraclear's impact to date has been monumental. They have:

  • saved 15,000 tonnes of CO2e per year,
  • distributed over 70,000 filters to households,
  • distributed over 33,000 filters to schools reaching 150,000 people in over 500 villages, 
and for every USD$15 they receive:
  • 120m2 of forest degradation is avoided (at a value of USD$158), and
  • 0.025 cases of Acute Lower Respiratory Infection are avoided.

We're super excited to be helping the kids of Laos and their families while helping the planet. We hope you are too.

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