Worldwide, approximately 800 million people do not have access to sources of clean drinking water.
In 2009, Mercer On Mission sent its first team of students, led by environmental engineering professor Dr. Laura Lackey, to Sisit, Kenya, to install a water-driven turbine pump, 10,000-liter tank and point-of-use water filters providing clean drinking water from the Wei Wei River to the center of the community.
In 2010, 2012 and 2015, students helped build a bridge over the river and continued to fine-tune the filters, which have proven to be not only effective, but simple, cheap and locally sourced.
Research has shown these filters – primarily biological sand filters – remove up to 99 percent of potential pathogenic material from drinking water.
Previously, villagers spent up to six hours per day walking to and from the river and collecting and hauling dirty, bacteria-filled water. In addition to the disease risk associated with this practice, the time and energy spent collecting water kept women from participating in income-generating ventures and children from attending school.
Students have worked side by side with these villagers to gather data and improve the lives of Kenyan families.
Mercer On Mission is planning to return to Sisit in the summer of 2018 to follow up on tests and make additional improvements to the water filters. This work in rural Kenya will serve as a pilot program for MOM’s efforts to address water quality in other locations, such as the Dominican Republic.