Momentum for Change Solar-powered water purification system

Focus area: Mitigation
Location: Ban Phonemuang, Ban Phonelek, Ban Mane, Ban Phonedeng, Ban Thongkwuang in Khammouane Province , Lao PDR
Established: May 2009

About one third of all people living in the Lao PDR do not have proper access to clean drinking water. Access to improved sources of water is slightly better in cities (77%) but this number hasn significantly risen in the past 15 years, according to the World Health Organization. With flooding and higher temperatures, the frequency of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dengue can increase. People without proper access use water from rivers and streams, and usually boil it before drinking, which requires burning fuel, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

The water is purified in four steps:
1. Pumping;
2. Preliminary filtration;
3. Filtration;
4. Bottle cleaning.

Installation of the system takes from 3-10 days, depending on the location, the size of the system and local conditions. Another 1-2 days are needed for training on the use of the water pump and the filtration module. The system needs a minimum amount of sun to operate properly, but can continue to operate on a battery for a few cloudy days when necessary.

The activity is based on a Private Public partnership scheme, a donor provides funds to purchase the system. Donors include development aid agencies.

Mitigation / Adaptation

Social and environmental benefits

Potential for scaling-up and replication

One unit can treat up to 5000 liters a day, which is usually enough to cater for the needs of a community of about 1250 people or 250 households. The filtration component can be powered through the regular grid or via a solar panel. The UV bulb has a lifetime of 8000 hours of operation, after which certain parts have to be replaced. Fine and activated carbon filters should be changed regularly (once every 3-6 months) A local technician can carry out operation and minor maintenance activities, but major maintenance has to be looked after by a qualified technician.

The community is fully involved in the activity, a Water Committee is created which selects a representative in each village with the agreement of village Committee and villagers. A day of training is conducted with the new Committee to explain the management and monitoring of the small enterprise.

Hygiene training was held in five villages. The training was conducted by the Lao Red Cross team. The purpose of the training was to improve hygiene awareness focusing on drinking water, cooking and the use of bottled water.

The training took a day per village involving preferentially women and children.


In the past eight years, the system has been installed in over 30 sites in Laos.

When replicating, some basic conditions should be in place:

1. An organized community to oversee the management of the activity;
2. Funding; costs can be broght down by community members contributing with labour;
3. Technical requirements for the installation of the system;
4. Raw water could be found with specific pollution and in that case a specific study and water analysis should be performed. It will require accordingly additional purification equipment, designed according to the case.