The Association for Humanitarian Development (AHD), a Hyderabad-based community organisation, has been awarded US$320,000 for a biological water-filtering initiative that provides hundreds of thousands of families with clean water.
The Pakistani group is one of four worldwide to have won a share of the 2017 Healthcare Innovation Award, funded by global healthcare company Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK). The water purification initiative was highlighted at a roundtable discussion with stakeholders and policymakers on Thursday. The discussion covered the challenge of providing safe drinking water, how AHD’s innovation could be scaled to reach more people and the potential for it to spur other innovative health initiatives in Pakistan.
Currently, many rural communities in Pakistan have to drink contaminated water. Children under-five are especially vulnerable as contaminated drinking water is a major factor in diarrhoeal deaths and several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma. Recent rapid urbanisation, susceptibility to floods and the challenging terrain of Pakistan has made accessing safe water extremely difficult for the poorest people.
To expand access to safe water, AHD introduced a simple and replicable bio-sand water filter, known as a “Nadi” filter, to hundreds of vulnerable villages. The innovation removes 98 to 100 per cent of biological contamination and can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by up to 40 per cent.
The filter is sourced and constructed from locally available materials, meaning that one unit, which serves a household of eight to ten people, costs just Rs 1,000-1,500. AHD also provides training to local staff and communities to enable them to take ownership of the innovation by constructing and repairing their own filters. Since launching in 2007, the Nadi Filter has provided clean and safe drinking water to 400,000 households.
A Khurshid Bhatti, Founder and CEO, AHD: “We are honoured to receive this Award in recognition of our efforts. We want to ensure that even the most remote communities have access to clean water. The unique part of our work is that we use entirely locally available materials and adopt a participatory approach to train communities. This ensures the Nadi filter remains available at a low-cost and can be adopted by families across the country.”
Azizul Huq, Vice President and General Manager, GSK Pakistan: “The Nadi filter is a fantastic innovation, which can be easily replicated across Pakistan. It clearly demonstrates the power of community-based organisations to drive the development and implementation of innovations, which are tailored to meet the needs and requirements of local communities. We are proud to reward AHD for the introduction of this scalable Nadi filter, which has the potential to continue saving many more young children’s lives.”