Stories of Change

Top: the biosand team carrying the filter into Minh's home. Bottom: Minh and her daughter demonstrate how to use the filter.

CWS efforts in Vietnam positively impacted 40,036 people in 69 communities this year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Biosand filters: affordable clean water for Minh’s family

Chu Thi Minh, who is of the Dao ethnicity, lives in a very remote mountain district of northern Vietnam with her husband and two children. The family earns a living by growing rice, corn and cassava on a hillside near their home, but the yield is low. This means that the family has no surplus to sell for cash to meet even basic living standards – like having safe water to drink – and thus is quite poor.

In fact, the family drinks and cooks with water from a shallow well that Minh’s parents dug 15 years ago. The well’s upper part is brick, but below ground there is no brick or cement lining. That means that for most of the year, the family pulls up buckets of muddy water and lets them sit until the dirt and other debris settle to the bottom. Then, they carefully use the water on top that is at least somewhat clear – but it is not necessarily clean. And when heavy rains come – heavy rains are prevalent for many months of each year – the well water cannot be used at all. During these times, Minh carries buckets of water home from her neighbors, who are kind enough to share their water, for drinking and cooking.

Tired of her family’s situation, Minh was happy to hear about biosand water filters from the village head and the community health worker, who had both learned about biosand water filtration from a CWS-hosted training course. Learning that the filter was low-cost, efficient and natural – no chemicals or electric pump needed! – Minh decided to register to buy one even though the cost was quite steep for her impoverished family. So, she was especially happy to learn that the filter would be made locally by a CWS-trained biosand filter-making team in the commune, which would help keep the cost down at about $27.

Minh’s family got their filter in October along with in-person training on how to use and maintain it properly. Minh proudly maintains her filter so that she and her family can have water all  the time – water that isn’t borrowed from a neighbor with great effort and that isn’t full of sediment or foul smelling.  Besides Minh’s, nine other families in her village are now using biosand water filters, and they all appreciate the low-tech, cost-efficient solution to improving water quality in their village.