Finnishing the Water – Finland
All life on Earth is based on the global cycle of water. Often, however, there is too much or too little water, or the rain comes too early or too late, or the quality of the water is so bad that it endangers life. In the 1970s, Finland was faced with water resources of rapidly decreasing quality. The ecologically vulnerable lakes were being exposed to high levels of industrial, agricultural and household pollutants, making it necessary to search for new and innovative ways of purifying the country’s water resources. The dissolved air flotation (DAF) process is one of these solutions, and has been established at over 200 plants across Finland.
Pico-Hydro – Viet Nam
Indigenous communities in rural Viet Nam, such as the Muong, often lack any form of power generation. This provides them with little opportunity to undertake practical and income-generating activities after nightfall. Recently, however, the Muong have adopted a form of hydropower, known as pico-hydro – the smallest scale of hydropower system. The kinetic power of moving water is transformed into electrical power by a turbine and generator. This gives the community valuable light in the evening and the ability to explore new technological avenues.
Doing the Shake – Brazil
Water is essential for life. Yet the quality of water available to most of the developing world continues to worsen. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “at any given time perhaps one-half of all people in the developing world are suffering from one or more of the six main diseases associated with water supply and sanitation (diarrhoea, ascaris, dracunculiasis, hookworm, schistosomiasis, trachoma)”. The number of people dying from diarrhoeal diseases is equivalent to twenty fully loaded jumbo jets crashing every day, leaving no survivors. In Brazil, this problem is being remedied through water treatment in the home. Solar disinfection (SODIS) provides a simple, low-cost, environmentally sustainable and easily replicable treatment for contaminated water.
Gift from the Sky – Sri Lanka
Rural communities in Sri Lanka often struggle to gain access to clean water without having to travel miles everyday. While many options exist to get clean water to rural communities, these options are often expensive and locally inappropriate. However, rainwater harvesting may be the optimum solution. By making use of the plentiful rain of the wet season, and filtering it through a roof-based collection system, rural communities can have a year-round supply of water suitable for cleaning and, if boiled, for drinking.
Fishing for Litter – Denmark
Marine litter has become an increasingly serious environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problem around the world. Discarded items can travel long distances with ocean currents. Marine litter consists to a great extent of plastics, metal and glass – materials that do not break down easily or quickly. These items are having an increasingly detrimental impact on fishing in Scandinavian waters of the North Sea.
Down the Drain – Bangladesh
The growth of small and medium-scale industrial activities has had a positive impact on economic development in many countries. However, it has brought with it a range of problems, including pollution of water resources. This is true in Bangladesh, where the number of small industrial units is estimated to be about 50,000. Not all are polluting, but it is clear that many ecosystems are now under threat, and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people are being affected. The most effective way to resolve this situation is to reduce effluent at source, to ensure that industrial plants take full account of the damage to the environment and do all they can to reduce this damage.