Water is life. So when health clinics don’t have clean water, it’s a serious issue.
Africare has worked with the support of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation since 2011 to strengthen the capacity of communities and the health system in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province to prevent the transmission of HIV and to ensure care, treatment and support for individuals living with HIV & AIDS and their affected families and communities. However, our team consistently observed that some of the facilities supported by Africare lack sufficient safe and clean water. Many clinics have no water infrastructure. Often clinics will receive water from municipal trucks bringing shipments at intervals that struggle to achieve the regularity and frequency the clinics and their patients require. Other clinics rely on the exceptional dedication of community members that volunteer to fetch and carry water to them.
Knowing that improved sanitation and access to clean water in these facilities would greatly improve the outcomes of treatment, care and support provided to community members living with HIV & AIDS, Africare approached Coca-Cola with the idea of evolving our partnership to solve this problem.
Coca-Cola knew DEKA Research and Development had a solution. You may know DEKA as the team behind the dynamic stabilization technology that spawned the Segway. This product may be most recognizable for its use among tourists on boardwalks and security staff at airports, but DEKA holds numerous patents for life-changing hardware with tremendous potential in the developing world. Case in point: DEKA’s Slingshot™ Water Purifier.
You might find it hard to believe what the Slingshot can actually do. With no more power than needed by a coffee maker, the Slingshot can transform what is practically sewage into clean, drinkable water. Essentially, the device evaporates the original fluid, separates out the impurities and then re-condenses the water – a deceptively simple process that leads to borderline miraculous results.
The Slingshot device is only in the “Alpha” phase, but DEKA, Coca-Cola, Africare and the local government have joined forces to implement a pilot program testing its impact in six selected South African health clinics. None of these clinics had running water previously. All six clinics received a Slingshot, a 10-foot container with filters and pump, and a 750-liter water tank. For three clinics, a borehole was drilled and fitted with a pump and electrical switchgear to tap underground water reserves.
A local South African engineering company received the contract to install these new water systems, and local specialists set up the Slingshots alongside DEKA’s experts. The Slingshots will purify the source water, which is then housed in the storage tanks and run throughout the clinics. During the construction, installation and initial testing process, an individual nominated by the neighboring community observed and learned from the experts how to use and maintain this equipment. These individuals will receive a stipend moving forward as they accept their responsibility as technicians and overseers of the new systems.
What’s the next step? Conduct the experiment! Africare will lead the design and implementation of a thorough monitoring and evaluation framework for the pilot’s duration. This will quantify the project’s impact on the targeted clinics and assess the feasibility of expanding to more. Obviously, the results are not yet in – the project officially launched on September 20th, but we are all eager to see what this partnership and project can bring. Combining DEKA’s game-changing technology, Coca-Cola’s dedication to serving its customers, Africare’s decades of experience implementing projects and fostering trust on the continent, and the desire of local governments and communities to build their own capacity, this bold experiment could revolutionize how communities everywhere resolve their water needs.