Clean Water Techniques for Wounaan Families

Clean Water Techniques for Wounaan Families

September 19, 2013
Solar stoves help pasteurize water.

As you know, Agua Pura Para El Pueblo advocates for very simple, inexpensive methods of water purification. Rather than wait for expensive wells or complicated water systems,


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These are family and community based options that are inexpensive and immediate. We distribute simple reusable devices that tell when water has been heated adequately to kill the pathogens and we show simple methods of sanitation to keep clean water clean.

In Panama our workshops have women and children attending, wanting to know ways to help their families stay healthy. Sometimes they know their drinking water is contaminated and the children are getting sick from drinking it, but they have no other choice. Our programs try to show different ways that these mothers use to make their water safe, and to keep their families from getting sick.   

Wax temperature indicators (WAPIs) help families know if their water is safe to drink.
Hand washing stations prevent the spread of disease.

The simplest and most overlooked way to prevent illness in families is hand washing. Even if the drinking water is clean, if people don’t wash after using the latrine or changing the baby they can contaminate the food and water that their families consume. In some places water is scarce and expensive and so hand washing is often not done. Agua Pura teaches about how germs cause disease and how they can easily be transferred from person to person. We show how to have simple but effective hand washing stations available that use very little water but still help prevent disease. These simple devices can be made from discarded water bottles and an inexpensive bar of soap. We help families make and use these washing stations and share the ideas with their neighbors.       

Every school should have a place for children to wash their hands and Agua Pura works to provide wash stations for them at all of our projects. Sometimes the school children have never washed their hands because of lack of water, so we teach the students to wash after using the school latrine and before lunch.                   

Often contaminated water is not treated because of the expense. Firewood and other fuel is expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain in Panama. Boiling water regularly is beyond the resources of many poor families. Agua Pura showed people inexpensive simple ways to make their water safe. Reflective solar stoves can heat water to temperatures high enough to kill pathogens. They are easy to make and use the sun to heat water and to cook food. We also distributed Water Pasteurization Indicators that can show when the water is safe to drink.         

School hand washing station.

We also demonstrated simple trash burning stoves that are safe and inexpensive to use at night and during rainy seasons and easily purify water. The stoves are insulated and make little smoke and so are safer and better to use indoors.

“Rocket” stoves provide another method to pasteurize water.

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