Filter Making & Distribution Enterprise – Haiti

Filter Making & Distribution Social Enterprise – Haiti & Dominican Republic

In partnership with our friends at Wine To Water, Water Charity has joined an effort to increase the use of water filters in at-risk communities in Haiti by helping to establish filter distribution businesses.  From production, through distribution, and into the households of recipients, this project will help people tremendously all along the way.  Water Charity is proud to be providing the training for this endeavor.

This social enterprise utilizes a long-lasting ceramic water filter produced in the  Dominican Republic, to provide clean water to rural communities in Haiti. It involves:
● Micro-financing (no interest)
● Business and WaSH (Water Hygiene and  Sanitation) training
● Development of locally run filter businesses by a community-based organization, such as YMCA and local schools.

The community-based organization identifies community members to be trained as Community Water Ambassadors (CWAs). Once training is completed, the CWAs are certified to start micro-financing the filters.  The community organization will supervise the CWAs.  The CWAs gain hands-on experiential learning in running a sustainable business and earn income from it.

The business training is spread over 3-4 days with 7-10 participants per training.  Key components include establishing mission/vision/values/purpose, a sales strategy, how to market, fair pricing structure, understanding break-even levels, and how to draft a contract.  Additionally, each participant is taught how to clean, maintain, and troubleshoot the water filter that they will be selling. The final portion of the training is devoted to creating a filter business plan based on lessons learned. Upon completion, each participant is presented with a graduation certificate, and a supply of filters to start with.

Program Impact
Immediate and long term impacts include:
1. Improved Physical Health: Reduce incidences of WASH-related illnesses.
2. Improved Self Efficacy: Preserve Dignity through economic activity and employment.  -$1,000+ USD in commissions paid to sales agents.
3. Reduce Global Warming and Improve Local Environment.  -80%+ reduction in the purchases of plastic water bottles by families who purchase a filter.

While it may not seem like much to us, the -$44.72 in annual savings when compared with purchasing bottled water per family in the first year (and many times that for the remainder of the life of the filter) is significant for rural Haitians.

– Projected impact: 1,000+ Haitians receive access to clean water in the first year, and potentially exponential growth over time.

*It’s important to note that an investment in this program is viewed as a capital investment that will provide an impact beyond the initial investment. WC & W|W hope to create a  sustainable market for ceramic water filters in Haiti through this program.




Ceramic Filter Overview

Ceramic Water Filters are an inexpensive and effective type of water filter designed to fit inside of an 18-liter container fixed with a tap.  They are made locally in the Dominican  Republic from clay, sawdust (or similar combustible material), water and nanosilver. The ingredients are measured, mixed together, pressed into a pot shape, and then fired in a  kiln. The sawdust burns out to create small pore holes that filter out organic contaminants, while the silver naturally kills bacteria in and around the filter. W|W’s Ceramic Water Filters not only remove up to 99.9% of organic contaminants, but they also produce safe water that is free of discoloration, odor, and unpleasant tastes. They filter water at a rate of 20 to 30 liters per day, to provide clean water for a family of five for a minimum of five years.

While, both Water Charity & Wine To Water utilize a variety of filtration strategies around the world (notably our extensive use of Sawyer hollow membrane filters in our Filters For Life Program – Worldwide), the ceramic filters used in this project were chosen because of the widespread acceptance of them on Hispaniola, and the long-term culture of ceramic production in both countries that share the island.  Production of the filters locally ensures that all of the money generated stays on the island and contributes to bringing wealth to impoverished communities.

Why Water?

Despite the thriving tourist market on the Island of Hispaniola (DR/Haiti), much of the population lives in poverty, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake left thousands displaced. Many families and communities on the island lack access to clean water.
● Water-related diseases take the lives of an estimated 5,700 people per year in  Haiti.
● 52.4% of Haiti’s rural population does not have access to clean water, and 80.8%  lacks access to sanitation.

This project has been paid for through the generosity of the Paul Bechtner Foundation.