Safe Drinking Water for a Third World Village

We Americans like to help others! Here's YOUR chance to do something REALLY valuable, of providing some remote village in some Third World country the safe drinking water they need to be able to survive and be healthy!

We encourage American kids to take the lead in this! We ask that their Teachers and parents will aid them in figuring out ways to establish communications with Missionaries (probably through the organizations that sent them) or villagers themselves (probably by postal correspondence, but conceivably by e-mail). Kid to kid, they could ask about how hard it is to find safe water to drink. If it becomes clear that there is a need, the American kids would then approach their parents, asking "Can we spend $100 to help some villagers?" We suspect that many parents would be impressed by their kids' caring for others. We suspect they might also be impressed by their kids learning French words (if their contact is in Africa) or Spanish words (if their contact is in South or Central America)!

The parents (or neighbors or others, if that is necessary) would then get involved, in a "family project" to first spend around $50 at a local building supply store and then to follow some simple directions (provided in a related web-page), to make the needed device. A few hour project at most!

When it is done and ready, the kids would supply the "destination address", and a sturdy box would be created around the materials. An "Instruction Sheet" would also be printed out (from an associated web-page) and placed inside the box, so a local Missionary could make sure that installation was done properly in the village.

ON THE BOX, we hope that it would be made clear that the box was "From Timmy and Janie, to Oomoo and Jamung", such that the kids at both ends see that they are at the CENTER of all this!

What is the Device?

Well, there are actually THREE different ones!

(1) Water Pump, that does not need electricity

The first is a unique Water Pump that is unlike any other water pumps! Where the water pumps we are familiar with require electricity to run their motors, and they are only around 30% efficient (energy added to the water in raising it compared to energy expended in doing it), and they need to be primed and more.

These pumps are entirely different!

They are approximately 97% efficient, so three times as much water is pumped with the same amount of work. They do not need electricity, and are NOT speed dependent, so something as slow as a simple crude Savonius windmill, or even animals or people could operate it. They do not need to be primed, either on first use or ever after! They operate perfectly at ANY speed of operation, even one turn per hour!

But even more importantly, the majority of water pumps (even electric powered ones) are limited to around 22 feet (7 meters) in vertical (suction) lift, while this pump has no such limitation! In fact, if a series of these pump sections are used together, water can easily be raised 500 feet or 1,000 feet vertically, which has always been impossible before where no electricity was available, and still very difficult even when electricity IS available! Therefore, accessibility to deeper wells, or rivers far below, is now possible, and easy, and villages everywhere should have realistic access to well or river water.

(The materials cost around $50, but the freight cost to get the 20 pound box to the destination figures to cost that much again, which is why the children need to ask their parents about putting up $100!)

This type of pump should never clog and never even require any maintenance for many, many years. If anything, the windmill that probably powers it might need occasional maintenance, but we are assuming that provision to animal-power, human-power, or windmill-power the pump will be determined during the installation, and probably by a Missionary or Aid Worker who would likely be present during installation.

With fairly minimal power, such as a 55-gallon-drum converted into a Savonius rotor windmill, 9 gallons per minute flow rate is very easy, whenever the wind blows! This is 540 gallons per hour or around 13,000 gallons every day! This is actually enough safe drinking water for thousands of villagers! Certainly for many hundreds of villagers even if water is used for regular handwashing and bathing.

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(2) Ocean Water Desalinization System

The second, related new invention is a very low cost system (also around $100) which removes salt and other minerals from seawater.

Some Third World villages are on or near the Ocean. Water is certainly present, but it is unsafe to drink, because of the high level of salt (salinity) in seawater. In general, about 3.5% of seawater is dissolved salts. Drinkable water should have less than 0.05% in it, nearly a hundred times less.

There have been technologies for many decades to remove the salt from seawater. The oldest is Distillation, where the water is boiled or evaporated into a vapor (gas) and then condensed again, where it no longer has any dissolved minerals in it. This process certainly works, but it takes large amounts of energy, and tends to be slow and/or expensive to do. It is generally considered impractical for remote villages, except on extremely small scales, because the necessary equipment is large and expensive. There are several variations of Distillation, including variants called Flash Distillation, but all Distillation processes require between 550,000 Btu and 1,700,000 Btu per thousand gallons of produced water, the lower end applying to what is called Brackish water (far less mineral content than seawater), so around 1,500,000 Btus of energy consumption is generally involved for any of the Distillation processes when seawater is being processed.

Around the 1960s, several other technologies developed, including Reverse Osmosis (RO), micro-filtration, ion-exchange, and electro-dialysis (ED). They each work, but seawater has so much salt in it that most of them clog up very quickly. They are each also horrendously expensive, millions of dollars for any practical-sized operation AND they each require large amounts of electricity and maintenance, so none of them are very suitable to usage in remote villages.

Power requirements:
Vapor Compression - from 550,000 Btu to 1,300,000 Btu per thousand gallons of water;
Reverse Osmosis - for seawater - from 250,000 Btu to 750,000 Btu per thousand gallons;
(for brackish water, less, around 1/3 of that)
Electro-Dialysis - for seawater - 800.000 Btu to 1,900,000 Btu per thousand gallons (again, less for brackish, much less)
They also tend to produce disappointingly small amounts of desalinated water!

This all works out to a total operating cost (including capital expense for equipment, depreciation, power, personnel, etc) of around $6 to $8 per thousand gallons of water. This is many times the cost you probably pay for your Municipal water. The new system mentioned below has a delivered cost of even LESS than we currently pay for Municipal water!

You might note that since a gallon of gasoline contains around 126,000 Btus of chemical energy in it, even if all these millions of dollars of equipment could be bought and transported to some remote location, we are clearly talking around 7 gallons of gasoline consumed for each thousand gallons of water processed. What about the long-term usage of such equipment? Who is going to be supplying substantial amounts of gasoline to such very remote areas every day or every week? Who is going to be making Service Calls, too? It is a very serious problem, and it has eliminated such equipment from actually being installed in truly remote locations, where the greatest needs are. Such equipment tends to get installed right near major cities, and adjacent to good roads so that the heavy equipment can get transported there. So even though these various technologies seem to show potential value in helping the world's people obtain safe drinking water, the costs and practical problems have kept it from really happening.

A new technology has been developed that is much less expensive, much more rugged, and is very resistant to clogging or other matters that require maintenance. The primary required maintenance is in occasionally removing large accumulations of salt from a collection bin.

The cost of a small scale system, capable of desalinizing at least 50 gallons of seawater each hour, or 1200 gallons per day, is on the rough scale of the $100 target (a little more) as indicated with the new Pump. The operating energy is in two forms, the total usage of which is around 180 watts, or 620 Btu per hour or around 15,000 Btu for the 1200 gallons of water processed in a 24-hour period. This is around 12,500 Btu per thousand gallons, only around one-fortieth of the power consumption of the existing technologies described above. It is actually moderately close to the theoretical energy requirement to dissociate the ions from the water, which is 2.65 kWh or 9,000 Btu per thousand gallons!

If used for brackish water instead, it performs even better, as would be expected.

The materials for such a desalinization system, for the scale of 50 gallons to 500 gallons of safe drinking water directly from seawater, per day, is also around $50, and again, from local stores. The weight of the completed system is comparable to that of the pump, so the $50 freight cost is also realistic. So we believe that a $100 family commitment should be able to provide such a system to a village that needs it.

The actual performance would be a little worse than this. Given the very low performance efficiency of a Savonius windmill (made out of a scrap 55-gallon drum) [around 15%] and that driving a salvaged car alternator by pulleys and a belt (more energy losses), the overall thermal efficiency of this system will not meet the numbers presented above. However, it is extremely realistic for one or two such improvised Savonius windmills to generate the needed 180 watts, given moderate winds, to provide the 1200 gallons of good drinking water described.

By the way, we are NOT using any "minimal safe levels" regarding the final salinity content of the water! We are describing water that would be possibly even more pure than the Municipal water available in most American cities! This unique system can be continued beyond that point to produce Hospital-quality-pure water, but requiring more time of operation!

Some villages, near the ocean, may only need the Desal. Other villages, up on a mountain high above a freshwater river, may only need a Pump. (Or several pumps.) We do NOT really see why any specific village could possibly need both. We do NOT want to cause any individual family to have to commit to greater than around $100 grand total toward accomplishing these things. And so, if the American children discover that a particular village needs multiple pumps, for example, we would hope that TWO or MORE families might work together, some providing the Pumps and parts and others arranging for the shipping. If a truly remote location is found, maybe yet another family could contribute toward the freight costs. The main thing from our point-of-view is that the kids of the families involved all have their names prominently on the box! We want those Third World children, who will certainly keep parts of the box, to always know of the American kids who helped them! AND, we want the American kids to have no doubt as to what they are participating in, and that they are IMPORTANT to some remote village somewhere!

There are to be four web-pages associated with this one:
(I have delayed installing those pages in the web-site for a sad reason! More than 90% of the e-mail I have received from this presentation has been from people who could not seem to care less about desperately needy people needing water! Many have DEMANDED that I provide them with all the instructions to build the pump or the desal, so that they can make AND SELL a lot of them so they can get rich! I find that really disgusting! Where I ask for good (Christian) motivations, nearly everyone seems driven by nothing but personal greed! Don't people still do "good deeds" because it is the right thing to do?

In any case, maybe I am too naive! But it now seems clear to me that as soon as my pump or my desal instructions are presented here, I will unintentionally be feeding the greed of a lot of people. I don't want to do that! Yes, I realize that a FEW pumps might actually also get made for remote Third World villages as well. But the e-mail that has come in has been so enormously coming from selfish and greedy people that I now suspect that a hundred or a thousand pumps might get "made and sold" for every one that actually might get to a remote village that desperately needs it.

Below, I whine some about the fact that UNICEF is not willing to provide us any information on WHERE needy villages are [they only wanted us to send them money], and assorted examples of this sort of what I consider wrong motivations. But until it seems more clear that A GOOD DEAL of my pumps [and desals] can actually get to the remote Third World villages which desperately need the safe drinking water, I do not see how to proceed. So the Instructions pages I composed to link here have not [yet] been provided. I find that immensely sad, especially for those many people with such terribly incorrect motivations.)

There are around 75 million families in the U.S. If even one in a hundred of those families decide to participate in this project, that would be around 750,000 pumps or desals provided for those remote villages where water is currently unsafe to drink. If we assume that each village has 100 residents, that would provide safe drinking water to 75 million people, who do not presently have any way of getting it. The actual problem is much larger than that, around 2,000 million people, but at least it would be a start! And YOU could be part of that! Even better, your kids could!

NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are supposed to be able to accomplish such things, but in decades of their knowing of these problems, the do not seem to have gotten very far. So it's TIME FOR A GRASS ROOTS EFFORT!

Interestingly, some months back (mid-2005) we asked UNICEF for assistance in first establishing contacts between American kids and kids in villages in the Third World where there may be such needs. We received a dozen automated replies, all indicating how important our message was. However, no actual human ever sent any response. It is unclear if UNICEF has any interest in helping us get fresh water supplies to millions of needy people, even though their advertising specifically promotes them as doing just that. So we do not know if they will be willing or helpful to any kids who might contact them for assistance. We certainly hope they will, because they certain must know where many thousands of needy villages are in desperate need of safe drinking water. (ALL of the automated responses from UNICEF tried to direct us as to where to send money, and noted that they can accept credit card payments! NONE ever actually mentioned "water"!)

It is certainly possible that NGOs and governments could help in the delivery of the systems. They are sturdy enough to be air-dropped from an airplane or helicopter, so for villages so remote that there are no roads, the assistance of such organizations might be very helpful. But they all seem so bureaucratic and egocentric that all the organizations like that that we have contacted have absolutely insisted that THEY be in absolute control of everything! They invariably insist that THEY "know all the answers" and that a Nuclear Physicist should "mind his own business and not try to interfere with them!" Maybe that self-centeredness might be tolerable IF they showed that they are actually accomplishing the goals they spend millions of dollars of advertising to brag about! But they DON'T! Not even close! Yes, they occasionally install a diesel-powered massive desalinization facility for a few thousand villagers somewhere, at a cost of a few million dollars. But there are around 2,000,000,000 people who have great trouble in finding safe drinking water! Providing such water for a few thousand seems essentially just a "publicity stunt" to me, especially since they always make sure that news reporters are taken along with them to such sites.

The giant NGOs seem to be nearly entirely focused on ensuring their own existence and their own jobs. Other goals, such as attempting to provide safe drinking water, seems to only be evaluated in terms of those themes. Unbelievable!

In general, we LIKE the fact that this whole Project might proceed WITHOUT the involvement of mega-Corporations, or giant NGOs, or Governments (ours or theirs)! If we can do this, people to people, or actually, kid to kid, we see far greater value in demonstrating what American character is actually all about! The fact that the Project is initiated by a Christian Church, yes, we like that true Christian Values would also be demonstrated.

Related to that, we have already been asked many times about the "OPPORTUNITY" to aggressively promote Christianity! Some Christians seem to see this as a "golden opportunity" to "promote Christianity!" We think that would be wrong, but a low-key reference to Christianity would be fine. We do NOT think the Lord would want this perceived as "a transaction", where a village obtains important equipment, but at the cost of having to endure aggressive attempts at Conversion! Instead, we think the Lord would see FAR more value in "providing a Christian Gift" with absolutely no strings attached! Our Church happens to strongly believe in the Holy Spirit, and that our function here is simply to "plant some seeds." We believe that those villagers probably have NEVER received a gift of any sort, (since mere survival has always been in doubt) and may be mystified as to why some kids far away would care so much about them! And so "questions" will likely occur to some of the villagers. So they might write to their American kid contacts, to try to learn WHY people give gifts, or Gifts! The American kids, in kid-speak, could then explain things in ways they might understand, and the effects of Christian values would be shown in the best possible light. (The American kids' parents probably would help on tough questions!)

See the point of all this? Yes, it IS in providing safe drinking water, with all the wonderful health impacts that will have. But if even ONE little kid in that Third World village winds up constantly thinking about some wonderful kids in America, imagine all the good results decades later when he grows up! He will have a good understanding of Christian Values, and also of American Character. Not bad for a hundred bucks, eh?

So, NOW, you have to find such a village that has such needs! Well, get busy! They need the water!

We recently became aware of a company that is currently providing some pumps for such villages. Unfortunately, their Play Pump was sold for $7,000 (apparently now [2007] raised to around $15,000 in two years)! They are actually using very traditional water pump machinery but instead of using an electric-powered motor to spin the pump (or a hand-pumped lever pump) they simply have used a standard playground spinning device with a hidden gearing system so that kids running around in a circle provide the power to raise the water. It is easy to see how for 15 minutes, kids would enjoy the playground device, which is far better an entertainment than anything else they ever see. But it seemed clear from the start that kids would certainly have to be FORCED to turn that PlayPump. In fact, many of the PlayPumps became abandoned, both from the limited amount of interest of the kids and the fact that when mechanical parts failed, it often took many months before the PlayPump company would make repairs (as their contract required them to do promptly). The man who promoted PlayPump made many millions of dollars as he convinced several of the large NGOs to buy hundreds or thousands of the PlayPumps. NONE of those pumps have ever been installed in really remote villages (where they would be of greatest benefit) since large trucks had to carry the pieces and even larger trucks with well-boring equipment had to get to the installation location, and there are virtually no paved roads.

But their PlayPump has water supply capabilities fairly similar to the one we are encouraging you to make and GIVE to some village (it's design and operation are completely different). The PlayPump promotional materials claim that their pump can pump around 400 gallons per hour (but they never mention the kids would be required to work rather hard to accomplish this water supply rate! If their PlayPump brings water up from 300 feet deep, simple math says that 400 gallons is around 3400 pounds of water, each being raised 300 feet during that hour, or a total of about 100,000 ft-lb/hr.) (which is around 6 gallons per minute, fairly comparable with the 9 gallons per minute or 540 GPH of our pump).

They have their pump so that kids playing turn a merry-go-round, which fairly conventionally actually drives the standard pump. Sounds good, as long as there are plenty of kids around who are healthy enough to play like that! Our understanding is that most kids in such locations are just barely alive, and we wonder how many hours they can put in each day driving that pump? It would be interesting to learn about the actual experiences of some of the villages that have had those pumps for a couple years. Are they still used? Do kids still turn them? Have there been many mechanical problems?

In the summer of 2010, PBS's Frontline did a program regarding that effort, where they considered it to all be a dismal failure. Some African communities found it necessary to SCHEDULE when the kids HAD TO go out there to turn the PlayPump, as few kids wanted to do that much playing on their own! And apparently very few of the pumps are still operating. PBS aired many videos of PlayPumps just sitting idle, as many have been abandoned and others are broken down.

We have one main concern about their approach, the $7,000 ($15,000) cost per pump. We are not sure that the MILLIONS of needed pumps might actually get installed where they are needed. That is why YOU are important, in making a pump that is sturdy enough to be air-dropped to really remote villages, where there are no roads. Those Play Pumps might be fine for more civilized areas, where they can get their installation equipment in to the location. But their installation REQUIRES massive equipment, which must drive on decent roads. After all, those Play Pumps require that a conventional bored well be drilled down through the ground to the level where a reliable water supply might exist. The drilling rigs to make such boreholes are rather large and heavy and even the smaller versions are mounted on large trucks.

We also wonder how quickly their kids get bored with doing the same circling thing every day for years on end. American kids would get bored with that in 20 minutes!

We have tried to approach this all differently by creating a design that is compatible to far more remote locations, and also a design that should run for many years without needing maintenance. It is unclear as to who makes a $10,000 trip to go to replace a seal in a Play Pump, and we wonder how many months a failed pump must sit idle while such a repair trip is scheduled and planned, and we have to wonder how many of those Play Pumps are already sitting idle for lack of a Mr. Goodwrench fixing it!

In any case, there seem to be plenty of need so that all of our pumps and all of the Play Pumps can be getting installed for many years to come!

Ah! Human nature is so interesting! Within a few weeks of this web page being on the Internet, we already had many people DEMANDING that we provide the plans referred to above, but NOT for any Third World charitable act! No, they see that if they start manufacturing these devices, they know they could SELL a lot of them here in America! Some of them even admit to us that they see the opportunity to "make a killing" and quickly amass a fortune!

These devices certainly have some very useful applications in the US, but that is entirely different than what we aspire to do here! I suppose that it is a sign that it is just a matter of time before such people manage to "steal the idea" and start "cashing in on it themselves".

This represents a real complication for us! At the moment, the ONLY way that we see to proceed is to insist that a kid/person/family already have a "destination address" where they intend to send the device(s). I guess we see that as credible evidence that the person or family is actually properly motivated regarding this concept. We are thinking that all those people who are only interested in "manufacturing and selling for profit" would never go to the trouble of trying to even find such a destination address! Then we will mail or otherwise provide the needed instruction sheets. If it were just a rare person who was trying to personally profit from this, that would be one thing. But roughly 90% of the e-mail that comes in regarding this web-page is from people who openly admit that they couldn't care less about remote villager's problems, they just want to get rich! People are something, huh?

We started this with a very naive attitude, that people would simply help other people who are in desperate need. And we are sure that most kids/people/families are exactly like that! But the world also has self-centered and greed-motivated people, and now we need to find some way to deal with them. We are not really sure that we want to be the way that such people get rich! And maybe we will come up with some better way to deal with this interesting new kink!

By the way, is it more clear why we want kids to be the center of all this? Adults sometimes see selfish motives in such things, but kids generally just want to be able to actually help other people. Shouldn't adults try to learn that from our kids?

Here is a related anecdote: We came to know individuals in a small company that manufactures (conventional, RO) desalinization equipment. It is extremely expensive equipment. Within days of the Tsunami disaster in Indonesia, their company realized that there would be tremendous need for safe drinking water in many areas. So they decided to GIVE a number of their portable (smaller) desalinization systems to be sent to such villages in desperate need. Their first thought was to contact UNICEF, since it advertises itself as providing safe drinking water. The had a number of their products boxed up and ready to be transported to the locations in greatest need.

You might guess the response they got back from UNICEF. An automated letter and automated e-mails telling them where to send money!

These people were far more persistent than I would have been! They made dozens and dozens of phone calls to UNICEF, finally getting to talk to some decision makers. Wanna guess what they were told? They were told to SELL the equipment, and then whatever money they got should be mailed in to UNICEF! They apparently insisted that they needed money far more than anything else! Wow! More than safe drinking water, apparently!

The admirable persistence of this small company continued. The finally came to realize that they could not rely on, or even trust the giant NGOs like UNICEF! They finally managed to make direct contact with some existing government offices in Indonesia, and they shipped several dozen of their [very expensive] devices by FedEx and UPS directly to locations in Indonesia. They then hoped the devices were then used, rather than being sold to get cash!

The giant bureaucratic operations like NGOs and governments seem endlessly fascinated with ensuring the existence of their own bureaucracy, which means the ONLY thing they actually have any interest in is cash, cash, cash. Then some bureaucrat, in New York or equivalent, makes some decision on whether to buy air conditioners or snowshoes or solar furnaces, such that their organization can then brag about all the impressive accomplishments!

We hope you see that THIS concept and this approach means to entirely bypass all that bureaucracy, and all the corruption that seems to invariably appear in any large scale activities. However, such things still seem to constantly show up! We have had hundreds of individuals who have insisted that THEY need to personally be in charge of distribution of these systems in Nigeria or Sierra Leone or the Ivory Coast or many other places. Their explanation always includes that THEY ALREADY KNOW which politicians to give bribes to, so that truckloads of pumps could be allowed, and they already know which criminal gangs to also pay off so they do not stop such truckloads of pumps! They also ALWAYS insist that THEY should be allowed to set up a large scale manufacturing operation of their own, for generally similar reasons!

Can you see why we think that these pumps or desals should arrive SEPARATELY (therefore of minimal value regarding corruption, bribery, payoffs or stealing), and also that we really like the idea of a general aviation aircraft (like a Cessna) doing an overflight of the jungle and air-dropping a FEW pumps at a specific GPS locations, such that the villagers of those destination villages might have the greatest likelihood of actually receiving them? It seems astounding that so much of this program must be based on trying to minimize the bad effects due to human nature!

The desals seem to face similar human nature issues. We have received a number of very impressive correspondences from individuals IN various nations in Africa, where they have been so persuasive regarding their tremendous desire to provide safe water for people, that we have eventually provided around eight different sets of all the construction instructions for the desals. In EVERY one of those cases, as they would ask follow-up questions as they started to make some initial systems, they each THEN made clear that they FIRST wanted to "manufacture AND SELL" my desals, "so that they could get rich enough to have the ability to give the needed bribes" and the rest. So, even an assortment of people who have described deep Christian Faith and motivations (which we have no way to prove or disprove, of course), have ALL quickly shown that their personal motivations are actually far more important than in helping others.

Does NO ONE today even remember that we were presented a Commandment about how we are supposed to treat our neighbors?

By the way, I obviously criticized all of those eight once I learned of their plans with my invention. And each acted offended that I was questioning their motivations! Every one of them assured me that they WOULD (eventually) provide some desals for the remote villages I had insisted on, but they each carefully explained WHY it was FIRST necessary that they become rich! There really is something dreadfully wrong with modern society!!!

MAKING the pumps and SHIPPING them might allow a family to FEEL good about trying to do some good. But if the village would likely never actually receive it, much of the point intended here would evaporate! We have tried to figure out the only procedures we see as credible, to actually accomplish these things. We are always open to suggestions regarding any better procedures, as long as they did not seem to be clear lures for personal greed, corruption, bribery, or theft.

We realize that NGOs tend to be able to control such losses, or overlook losing millions of dollars for corruption or bribery, but that is because they pay for such massive personnel to participate in anything they do, which we see as immensely wasteful. We choose to think that a "grass roots approach" has enough merit to be worth seriously pursuing, and therefore this system is set up as it is!

We have an illuminating example of a similar possibility, where giant NGOs seem to insist on absolutely controlling every aspect of trying to solve a difficult problem. It is Malaria in Africa and Asia.

The United States essentially eradicated Malaria by the 1950s with massive use of a single chemical, DDT. DDT was later determined to be hazardous to health and environment, so it was absolutely banned in the US. However, DDT has long been the main method of attempting to control Malaria in Africa. It is interesting how giant companies can promote things like cigarettes and DDT throughout the world while not being allowed to do so in the US due to extreme health issues! But that appears to be more of political decisions, of which a Physicist seems to be incapable of understanding!

A variant approach to Malaria has long been known, but has only been getting massive media attention in the past several years, the idea of placing a tent of netting over a bed so that people can sleep without being bitten by infected mosquitoes. In recent years, the netting has had the added feature of being coated with a pyrethroid insecticide, so that it not only BLOCKS the mosquitoes but actually kills them.

The massive media attention is ENTIRELY centered on people donating money for such nets, with very little else ever even mentioned! This seems to be an indication of an agenda that might be somewhat different than actually just saving lives!

Doesn't it seem that it should be possible for YOU to simply go to a local RETAIL store and buy a twelve-foot-square of standard plastic window screen, and mail that very light material to some village in Africa or Asia, DIRECTLY, for just a few dollars?

The NGOs seem to have made it absolutely impossible for you to do that! The WHO (World Health Organization) has apparently established specifications for such Malaria netting. However, it appears that they choose to keep those specifications secret! There seems to be no way to learn what gauge netting is recommended, nor which specific insecticide they recommend for it. We in the United States have broad availability of window screening, which is manufactured by thousands of different companies, and even with different gauges (spacings of the plastic wires), but all obviously are intended to stop mosquitoes from passing through!

However, of ALL the millions of companies in the world, the WHO has only approved TWO companies as acceptable manufacturers of the Malaria netting! So even if some other company could somehow learn what the specifications were and started manufacturing this extremely common and inexpensive product, it could not be used in combating Malaria because the WHO would not accept or use it. Which means there is no point for any other company to even try to make such products!

It also seems impossible to even learn WHICH are the two approved manufacturers that the WHO has decided to allow to manufacture all those nets. Isn't that really strange? I get the dark suspicion that there might be an extremely cozy relationship between the ownership of those two companies and some of the top Executives of the WHO. Otherwise, why all the extreme sense of secrecy about all of these things? One would think that, IF the central interest was actually in eradicating Malaria, the WHO would BROADLY PUBLISH their specifications, such that a thousand companies, or ten thousand, might start to manufacture such critically important products.

That is especially curious as some of the very few public references to these issues make clear that those two manufacturers cannot make nearly enough of the needed nets! Logic would seem to suggest that the WHO should enthusiastically WELCOME thousands of other manufacturers who might want to provide such items. But they definitely do not, choosing to stay with their TWO approved manufacturers, which are known to be incapable of making enough nets.

The massive media attention seems concentrated on claiming that "$10 can provide a net so that four people can sleep under it." As a result, kids walk laps around Churches and then the adults donate for nets, and Churches donate millions of dollars for Malaria nets. The media promotions seem to imply that ALL of the $10 donation goes to buy and ship one net, which gives the donor a sense of personally helping one family. There is never any reference to the fact that creating and airing many national TV and magazine and newspaper ads is extremely expensive. Or that the thousands of people in the NGO bureaucracies all are given paychecks and their giant skyscraper buildings all have huge mortgages to pay! Or that the actual manufacturers of the netting and the insecticides are clearly making UNKNOWN amounts of profit. Don't political leaders often talk about the importance of "transparency" where the public is supposed to be allowed to see and know what is going on with their money? It sure does not seem to exist regarding Malaria netting!

Since we are never allowed any access to such accounting figures, there is no possible way to even challenge the claim that $10 can provide a net for four people. However, there are definitely some known facts that seem potentially fishy! It was WONDERFUL to see that the United Methodist Church had collected and donated over $3 million dollars in a surprisingly short period of time. That Church is only a tiny part of all the donations provided by individuals and Churches and other entities. And that figure was for a relatively short period of time. It seems reasonable to think that easily a total of a hundred times as much, $300 million, has probably already been donated for this effort. Given their promotional descriptions, where $10 provides a net, doesn't that give the impression that those donations would have provided 30 million nets? And at four people protected per net, doesn't that suggest that at least 120 million people are ALREADY protected as a direct result of those donations?

IF that were true, that would be a significant fraction of ALL the people in sub-Saharan Africa! The problem would already be well under control!

However, although the WHO seems unwilling to say HOW MANY nets they have already provided, some news reports from various African countries have mentioned numbers, and NONE have ever talked about "millions" of nets! They only refer to some number of thousands of nets.

I am NOT complaining that that is any bad thing! A single net delivered is a good thing! My complaint is more regarding the extreme lack of transparency regarding HOW MANY NETS are provided per each million dollars of donor giving! It is clearly FAR less than their promotional TV ads seem to imply!

Now, IF it happens to actually be true that 80% of the donated money is used to pay salaries of Executives of NGOs and for the profits of those two approved manufacturers, wouldn't that be outright deception when they get people to donate $10 as though it was going to COMPLETELY buy and deliver a net?

My point here is that, imagine if YOU somehow had the capability of actually buying plastic window screen netting (from a manufacturer, for well under a dollar), and then you could spray it with an insecticide that killed mosquitoes, and then packaged it up and shipped the less than one pound package by Postal mail or UPS or FedEx to some specific village in Africa. None of this is beyond your capabilities, is it? And you could KNOW that an actual family in Africa might be protected from Malaria by YOUR personal gift! And in three or five years when the insecticide had faded, you could send another to that same family! For your $10 or so, YOU would actually KNOW that your donation actually had the effect you had intended!

Maybe this is expressing a cynical attitude. I suppose it is in some ways. There were probably three specific incidents that caused me to develop some suspicions regarding very large NGOs such as the largest Charities:

Well, due to those personal experiences, I have developed a healthy skepticism for virtually all of the giant NGOs regarding their impressive claims of what they accomplish. IF they were working out of a two-car garage, yes, I might tend to think that they WERE as reputable and caring as they claim. But when they build a $300 million skyscraper to be their headquarters, and they have thousands of PAID employees inside that building (and many others), it just all seems to me that massive amounts of Donations have to be used to support such huge bureaucracies.

Therefore, I REALLY see great value in trying to find ways where INDIVIDUALS might DIRECTLY provide important devices (such as Malaria netting or water pumps or desals) or even food or money, to families in need. In my opinion, there is just too much waste and corruption and motivation for job-self-preservation, when giant bureaucracies REQUIRE that they be at the center of everything.

(3) Extracting PURE Distilled Water from Humidity (or seawater)

EVEN MORE RECENTLY, another technology has come to light which seems to have some advantages over even the technologies referred to above! In a simplified description, NATURAL (humid) air is directed into a tube passageway which then passes underground for a significant distance. As the air becomes cooled by the cool deep ground, it can cool to a point below its dewpoint, where water droplets then MUST form on the walls of the tube! The device is designed so that those water droplets will run downhill into a collection tank. In MOST climates, that method can collect many gallons of PERFECTLY PURE (distilled) water every day! (The effect is essentially exactly the same as what happens when you see a window air conditioner dripping water, because that water had been humidity in the house which condensed into water droplets when the house air had been cooled to below its dewpoint.)

Even better, the simplest version of that system involves around the same expense for materials (maybe $50), it is nearly indestructible, extremely durable, and there are very few maintenance aspects needed for it. There are more advanced versions that are more complicated, but they also can provide far more pure water.

And better yet, we have discovered a variant of that new system which can be used to desalinate seawater, although the advanced versions are necessary for that.

In late 2010, we have Engineered and Designed a rather large scale version of the Desal version of this system for the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where more than a million people are still living in tent cities nearly a year after their earthquake, and they do not have supplies of safe water to use. Their usage of contaminated water for drinking, cleaning and bathing is causing massive health problems, including many deaths from Cholera. Therefore, we Engineered that Municipal-scale system for their use which should supply a realistic 60,000 gallons of absolutely pure distilled water every day. And the system is inexpensive enough where if they want to provide ten times that much pure water, it is very realistic, and could be done in a few days. Pure Desalinated Seawater for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

In any case, we now have a set of four pages that completely describe how to make the simplest version and also each of the variant advanced versions, including the desal uses. Those pages fully describe WHY it works and even provides the information to be able to predict how much water should be provided from each variant in any particular climate!

Please see the presentations at:
Pure Water Supply for Third World Villages.
Pure Desalinated Seawater for Third World Villages.
Pure Distilled Water for Emergencies when Wells are Unusable.
Pure Desalinated Seawater Distilled Water for Off-Grid Residents.

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in December 2005.

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C Johnson, Pastor
A Christ Walk Church
BELIEVE web-site
(also educated as a Theoretical Physicist at the University of Chicago!)