The Christopher Robert Project’s Safe Water Initiative is dedicated to providing safe water and distributing public health information in the villages we serve. We envision lifetime access to safe drinking water and public health information for Thailand’s remote tribal communities.
It was in six small villages that the Christopher Robert Project realized a great need. Children were showing up for English classes sick most of the time, young people were dying unexpectedly from unknown illness and the diagnosed kidney problems of one headman required surgery. His doctor warned him against drinking any water from the village water supply. Hill tribe people make about $1 a day so for many, medical care and surgery are out of their reach. Even buying bottled water is something most villagers cannot afford. The residents who can afford to buy bottled water do, the others must drink what’s available. An overwhelming majority of residents voiced suspicions over the safety of their water. This concerned the founders so they collected water samples for analysis at Chiang Mai University, Science and Technology Service Center. As it turned out, the residents had good reason to worry, all samples indicated a serious problem with the village water.
Water analysis showed that water in all six villages was contaminated with dangerous pathogens. In the villages with a well, analysis proved extremely high total coliform counts indicating a breach in the well contaminated with “sewage source”. In villages with no well, high levels of e-Coli were discovered. The e-Coli count acceptable is zero and their water contained a count of 49 MPN/100mL. Dr. Sakunnee Bovonsombut, Assistant Professor at Chiang Mai University Science and Technology Center, recommended we warn all residents in six villages to boil their water for ten solid minutes before ingesting or washing food. This was the deciding factor for intervention.
At the Christopher Robert Project office in Chiang Mai, work began on the largest initiative to date. Research and development began on an improved design of an old, yet effective filtering technique. It was decided the answer for these villages was point-of-use biosand filtration (BSF) adapted from traditional slow sand filters. While prototypes were being built, work also began on corporate documentation needed for funding as well as researching other implementations of biosand filters. Research was found indicating that a majority of BSF implementations to date were failing due to two things – lack of education and follow-up. Knowing this, we made extra effort in these areas in order to bring safe water to these villages.
In the past the founders of the Christopher Robert Project have covered over 95% of all costs. Providing water filters to 362+ families will be too costly without funding from corporations, philanthropic organizations and private donors interested in helping us reach our goal. It is our hope that The Christopher Robert Project will successfully obtain funding for our 2016-2017 Safe Water Initiative and begin implementation as soon as possible.