The product is designed to address the need of more than one billion people who lack access to safe and clean drinking water by allowing them to have a stable and reliable source of water for home consumption.
While launching the Life Straw water purifier manufactured by Vestergaard Frandsen, a European-based company, Thomas Hansen, the company’s regional director for East Africa, said the purifier comes when more than 11 million Ugandans lack access to safe and clean drinking water and water borne diseases are on the increase.
"The product is portable and user friendly. Its container is not used to store drinking water but only for instant purification.
That makes it safer than the drinking water that is stored in containers and may get contaminated. With the Life Straw, one purifies what they are going to take at the time," Hansen explained.
He says it is estimated that 4,000 children die from diseases caused by drinking unsafe water. He added that water borne diseases also reduce quality of life and perpetuate poverty by impacting education and productivity.
Hansen explained that the process of purication begins when dirty water is poured in to the pre-filter bucket at the top of the product where gravity forces the it through a tube and into the purification cartridge, which contains millions of tiny pores that remove contaminants.
Clean and safe water is then ready to flow from the attached tap. Dirt accumulated in the membranes can be released from the bottom of the device by pressing the squeeze bulb after use.
"The need for safe and clean water is especially acute for children under five and people living with HIV/AIDS as chronic diarrhea remains a lead cause of death and morbidity," Dr. Sam Okware, the commissioner for community health at the Ministry of Health said. "Products like Life Straw Family can make a huge difference."
The water and lands minister, Maria Mutagamba said: "Today, rural water coverage is about 60% and urban 70%. If we move at the same pace, we are likely to meet the urban target which is 85% by 2015 while in the rural areas the target is 75%."
Hansen says the purifier has been extensively tested in the US at the University of Arizona and complies with the US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for microbiological purifiers. It removes 99.9% of all known bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
He says safe water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions of people. "Water filtration tool not only provides safe drinking water but also has a positive health impact on the most vulnerable populations," Hansen says.
Under the Uganda Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), government set a target of having each Ugandan access to safe drinking water by 2015.
The purifier filters about 10 litres of water an hour depending on the height at which it is hang.It will be marketed through NGOs with donor funding.
The product requires no spare parts or maintenance other than cleaning.