Disaster Relief Effort in the Philippines

Global Water Support of Typhoon Haiyan

Disaster Relief Effort in the Philippines

ted equipment photo 4Global Water is a partner in an engineering collaboration to develop mobile water treatment equipment specifically designed for emergency and disaster relief operations, as well as remote water supplies in developing countries.  The prototype systems currently being designed, built and tested are called First-Response Water Purifiers and are intended for long-term operation in remote areas under challenging conditions while requiring minimal maintenance.  This design focus meets the need for most water treatment in remote, rural areas of the developing world, which are particularly difficult areas to provide water treatment capabilities after a significant natural disaster, such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.


Global Water has a special relationship with the Philippines and its people as we have been working there over the past two years to test and evaluate prototype water treatment equipment designs.  That equipment has been used in several natural disasters in the recent past and is being used now to create clean water supplies for survivors of Typhoon Hiayan, the horrific storm known in the Philippines as Yolanda.  Some of our equipment was already in place in the central region of the Philippines as it was being used to create clean water in support of earthquake victims as a result of the 7.2 earthquake that occurred in mid-October.  Now, of course, that water treatment equipment is being used by the Philippine government to provide drinking water in the area hardest hit by this latest disaster.

About the First-Response Water Purifiers – The Purifiers use technologies that are lightweight, compact and able to operate effectively with low power and maintenance requirements.  The Purifiers can operate with any freshwater source, including difficult-to-treat surface waters with significant microorganism contamination, high turbidity and high algae.  As a result of many natural disasters in the developing world, surface waters contaminated with microorganisms and high particulates/turbidity become impromptu water supplies of last resort as survivors struggle to find water for themselves and family members.

First_Response_Photos4The Water Purifiers built thus far have production capacities in the 2,000 – 5,000 gallon per day (GPD) size range because they are specifically sized for rural encampments often created after natural disasters in the developing world.  But the modular design can be expanded to create 10,000 gallons per day water treatment capacities and higher if needed.

The Prototype Water Purifiers use freshwater treatment technologies that have been developed through grants from the Office ofNaval Research and with test and evaluation support from the Seawater Desalination Test Facility at the Port Hueneme, California  Naval Base.  The Purifiers consist of a series of water treatment stages that include: 1) pre-filtration (simple & cleanable on-site), 2) dual ultrafiltration membranes (back-washable and able to remove all microorganisms, including virus, along with virtually all turbidity in one stage), 3) activated carbon (used for taste enhancement), and 4) chlorine addition (for residual disinfectant).

ted eqipment 5About Disaster Relief Scenarios – In disaster relief scenarios, a range of freshwater treatment productions are often required.  2,000 – 5,000 gallon per day units are excellent for encampments of 500 to 5,000 people, typical encampment sizes after a natural disaster in the developing world.  But large quantities of water (25,000 to over 100,000 GPD) are needed for urban areas and densely populated rural areas.  The militaries of the world are equipped to make water in this large capacity range very quickly with their self-contained and mobile systems.  This is why foreign militaries routinely are involved in the early stages of disaster relief operations before municipal water supply systems can be made operational again.

IMG_4918Another water treatment need is for those rural areas where water supply logistic support is not offered, but periodic resupply may be possible.  For this application, small, family-size water treatment systems are helpful that can provide 2-4 Quarts of filtered water per hour.  Global Water has provided to the Philippine government small, compact filters for evaluation that can provide this modest amount of filtered water per hour for families and small groups of rural survivors.   These same filters have been evaluated in a year-long test in a rural community in Nicaragua in a collaborative effort between Global Water and a group of medical students from Ohio State University.

About Global Water – Global Water is based upon the belief that the lack of access to safe drinking water is the primary cause of hunger, disease and poverty throughout the developing world.  Founded in 1982, Global Water is a volunteer-based, international, non-profit humanitarian organization focused on providing clean water supplies, sanitation and hygiene facilities for rural schools and villages in developing countries.

If you’d like to learn more about Global Water’s support of disaster relief operations as well as rural schools and villages in the developing world, please contact us via email at info@globalwater.org or call our office at 805.985.3057.