This past year I was introduced to The Water School and its activities in Haiti through the UBC Alumni magazine Trek. Here is an excerpt introducing The Water School and the work of a UBC alum, Bradley Pierik, who is extending the SODIS approach beyond bottles to bags:
The Water School was founded by Robert Dell, a retired water chemist who ran Dell Tech Laboratories, a chemical regulatory compliance company, for 21 years. After a trip to Kenya in 2001, he began researching water treatment technologies that could be useful in Africa, and came across solar disinfection. The method had been studied extensively by a Swiss aquatic research institute (EAWAG), and after his own field work in Uganda, Dell made some further simplifications to the process. The Water School works in five countries, and maintains a “train-the-trainer” approach, so that teachers or other leaders promote the method to their own community.
As an undergraduate engineering student at University of Toronto, Pierik spent a summer in Africa working for a church organization and digging wells. The next year, while working at a large Canadian water treatment company, he met Dell, who later asked him to work for the Water School. He completed a thesis project on various aspects of the science of solar disinfection. At UBC he built a sunlight simulator and wrote his master’s thesis on the effectiveness of using plastic bags instead of bottles. The idea proved successful, and several other organizations that promote SODIS are now looking at using bags for treating water in disaster relief because they are easy to transport.
Pierik has studied many methods of disinfection, and often finds that great ideas work well in the lab but not in practice. His favourite part of his job is traveling to places like this and meeting the people who use the technology.
Read the Trek article.
Learn more about SODIS and The Water School.