One of the biggest problems that disaster relief crews face is that of fresh, clean drinking water, as most disasters will disrupt or contaminate existing supplies like wells and rivers. The most common problems are agricultural runoff and human sewerage systems breaking or overflowing, spilling waste into previously-safe water supplies.
People can survive on limited food for a few days, but without clean water they’ll quickly suffer from dehydration or diseases caused by drinking contaminated water, like cholera and dysentery. Shipments of bottled water may seem like the obvious solution, but it’s one that doesn’t scale well: you can supply 100 people in one location with bottled water quite easily, but providing the same level of supply to even 10,000 people spread over several locations becomes near-impossible to manage and maintain. What’s required is a solution that uses the available water and makes it safe to drink.
On Boxing Day 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a massive tsunami hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India – causing widespread devastation. This was our first major disaster relief response.
Working with NGO partners the SkyJuice Foundation provided drinking water solutions for hundreds of thousands of people in many countries. Sri Lanka was one of the countries that took the most impact. And the solution we provide is not just for the immediate disaster but continues for many years after assisting disadvantaged people. From this beginning the SkyJuice Foundation has continued by responding with our valued partners to almost every disaster and emergency since in numerous countries around the world/
Who we work with
SkyJuice works with a number of aid organisations to bring safe water to disaster-stricken areas. We’re currently partnering with Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund, Germany to install 25 water filtration units in Haiti. Oxfam Australia installed SkyHydrant Water Filtration Units and Emergency Pumping Kits in Vanuatu and Fiji.
SkyHydrant Water Filtration UnitTM
Our SkyHydrantTM water filtration unit can be on the ground fast, with up to 50 units deliverable in a shipment (18 kg per unit). Set up time is miniscule, just 15-20 minutes with no technical expertise required. There are two basic ways to set up the source water feed:
- Pumped from a raw water source into the header tank, then gravity-fed through the filter;
- Gravity-fed straight into the filter from a higher tank, pond, or dam.
After filtering, the now-clean water can be distributed from the tap stand or direct from the unit.
Getting units into disaster areas
When a disaster hits and infrastructure is damaged, most of the transport options that we usually take for granted are no longer available. Roads are impassable, rail lines are blocked, and airports are damaged and flights disrupted. It can be a huge challenge to actually get the filtration units to the required locations in the first place! Sometimes we’ll spend a lot of time on the phone, just figuring out what transport options are still available. For example, in Vanuatu, DHL was the only company providing services – so we needed to work with them to get water filtration units on the ground. Occasionally no commercial operations are running, and that’s where the Australian Air Force come in: they usually make space available to specific aid organisations on Hercules aircraft for urgent aid supplies… we just have to move fast before the cargo bays fill up!
Advice for aid organisations
If you’re working in an area that needs fresh water fast, there are a number of things that you can do to expedite the process of getting SkyHydrantTM units on the ground and functional. Firstly, work out how many units you’ll need – and stick to that number. This helps us to manage the production process as smoothly as possible. When it comes to shipping: talk to us to figure out the best solution. We can often put together a solution surprisingly fast! Also, we can follow through to make sure that the units arrive when and where they’re supposed to.
“We are proud to announce that today we installed the first SkyHydrantTM as cholera response in Haiti.”