Gavin Gough
Editorial, Humanitarian & Travel Photographer
Muna in the rice fields

Clean Water in Rural Nepal

Development, NGO Client, Water & Sanitation

The Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) is a Canadian NGO addressing the need for safe drinking water and sanitation

This assignment illustrates the process of building and using biosand filters in a rural community.

Drinking clean water from a biosand filter

Drinking clean water from a biosand filter

Manjali Hasda drinks clean water from the biosand water filter at her home in Sharanamati Village, Nepal

The Biosand Filter 'Factory'

The Biosand Filter 'Factory'

A schoolboy cycles past the biosand filter factory on his way to school in Sharanamati. The factory can be reached via a sandy road. It requires no electricity and no more than a light shelter to provide workers with some protection from the elements.

Maintenance work at the Biosand factory

Maintenance work at the Biosand factory

Factory workers, Dhanamumi Murmi and Anjan Dahal ,maintain one of the basic moulds, from which biosand filters are constructed. They are two of only half a dozen employees who run the factory and are responsible for building all the biosand water filters for the local area.

Preparing the materials

Preparing the materials

Dhanamumi Murmi mixes the cement that she will use to construct the biosand filters. The materials required for the construction of the filters are readily available, inexpensive but very resilient.

Mixing the aggregate

Mixing the aggregate

Dhanamumi Murmi cleans and sorts the gravel that she will use in the biosand filters. A gravel layer elevates other materials above the outlet pipe, ensuring that it is kept free flowing.

Preparing the water containers

Preparing the water containers

Lukhi Ram, an employee at the biosand water filter factory, is preparing the containers which will sit in the top of the biosand filters. Water can be collected from any source and poured into the orange containers, from where gravity will pull it down through several layers, killing 99% of bacteria inthe process.

Loading up the trailer

Loading up the trailer

Removed from their moulds and freshly painted, the biosand filters and sacks of sand and gravel are loaded onto a trailer, ready for delivery and installation.

Collecting water from a ground source pump

Collecting water from a ground source pump

Muna Thapa collects water from a ground source water pump outside her village home. This water has not been treated and whilst it can be used for irrigtaion, it may not be safe to drink. However, it does provide a source of water that Muna can put into the biosand filter.

Replenishing the water supply

Replenishing the water supply

Muna Thapa fills the biosand filter with water collected from a ground source pump. Gravity will draw the water through a biological layer, then through layers of sand and gravel, removing 99% of bacteria in the process.

Sharanamati Village, Nepal

Sharanamati Village, Nepal

Muna's biosand filter is inexpensive, easy to maintain, does not require electricity and provides a reliable source of clean water for Muna and her family.

Radhika Ganesh

Radhika Ganesh

Radhika tops up the container at the top of the biosand filter.

Simplicity works

Simplicity works

Radhika's kitchen is simple but effective. A gas hob, a few spices and clean water, courtesy of the CAWST biosand filter.

Collecting clean water

Collecting clean water

Whilst many of us take it for granted that clean, uncontaminated water will pour out of our taps, it's not something that Radhika could be sure of without her family's biosand filter.

Ram Pokherai drinks clean water from his family's biosand filter

Ram Pokherai drinks clean water from his family's biosand filter

Clean water helps children stay healthy, which means they are less likely to need time away from school, so their education improves. Providing clean water has important knock-on effects.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Hygiene and Sanitation

Before dinner, Chandramani Karki and Rajes Thapa wash their hands in the water from a biosand water filter. Educating families about the importance of hygiene and sanitation ensures that they can make the most of their clean water supply.

Parbati Dahal

Parbati Dahal

Ever smiling, Parbati collects water for her biosand filter from a communal hand pump.

Asmita Dahal

Asmita Dahal

After dinner, Asmita drinks water from her family's biosand filter.

Getting ready for school

Getting ready for school

In the morning, Tara Dahal helps her daughter with her school uniform in the family kitchen. A biosand filter allows Tara to wash fruit and vegetables with uncontamintaed water, allowing her to be confident that her children are far less likely to become ill.

Bisnu Pokheral

Bisnu Pokheral

Bisnu replenishes the biosand water filter outside her family home in Sharanamati Village.

Happy and healthy

Happy and healthy

Cheerful Manjali Hasda in the doorway of her village home.

Every home should have one

Every home should have one

And most homes in this rural, Nepalese community do. Radhika Murmu drinks water from a biosand water filter inside the doorway to her family home.

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology

Images from this assignment are being used to raise awareness of the important work that CAWST is doing, providing the resources and education required for reliable clean water supplies in rural areas.