PROtectors in Action
In order to understand the real benefits of using PROtector water treatment systems, we need to take a look at them ‘in action’. This means an in-depth study of how the machines are received by communities, how they improve water quality, how easy they are to operate and maintain, and how durable they are ‘in the field’.



PROtector Pilot Program

Longech, Kenya

Turkana is a vast, marginalised district located in the most north-westerly corner of Kenya. It is bordered by neighbouring countries of Uganda to the west; Sudan and Ethiopia to the north and northeast; and Lake Turkana to the east. Despite being the largest district in Kenya, which is one of the more developed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkana remains one of the world's poorest regions.

The population of the Turkana tribe is in the region of 350,000, and they are a part of the larger Nilotic group of tribes (along with the Samburu and the Masaai). They are a very traditional tribe, with most of their people still living rural lives as they have for generations. The Turkana rely heavily on the rainy seasons and the two rivers that run through their land for fresh water.

Unfortunately, Turkana is a drought prone area where rains often fail and rivers dry up, making fresh 'sweet' water a scarce resource. The only alternative resource for drinking and cooking is the saline water from the lake, and brackish groundwater from nearby shallow wells.

To make matters worse, this water contains naturally excessive levels of fluoride which results in the development of dental and skeletal fluorosis when ingested by infants and children as they grow up. The symptoms of fluorosis are crippling and disabilitating, including the development of brittle bones, bowlegs, and hunched backs. Unfortunately, the disease is irreversible and untreatable, meaning that many Turkana people are incapacitated and denied the opportunity to work themselves out of poverty. Along with the effects of prolonged drought, fluorosis is one of the main causes of poverty in the Turkana district.

Lake Turkana's salty waters comprise the world's largest desert lake. (Photo Credit - Yannick Garcin)

One of the locations worst inflicted by fluorosis, is the village of Longech which is situated close to the shore of Lake Turkana, about a 90 minute drive north-east from the district capital of Lodwar. The local population of approx. 1500 currently draws brackish water from a shallow well, where fluoride levels are as high as 24ppm (sixteen times higher than the limit stipulated by WHO). In October 2009, the villagers' problems were exacerbated by an outbreak of cholera, highlighting the fact that they have no protection from contaminated drinking water whatsoever.

The picture on the left shows a Turkana man inflicted with acute skeletal fluorosis. His condition has been brought about by having to drink toxic levels of fluoride throughout his childhood.

Oxfam is an international humanitarian organization that is well established in Kenya, helping to combat poverty in the northern pastoralist districts of Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit and Wajir, which are known as Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). Oxfam's ASAL programme works primarily in Turkana and Wajir, with the following objectives:
  • Improving access to clean, safe water
  • Promoting proper sanitation, health and hygiene
  • Strengthening people's ability and opportunity to earn an income
  • Improving people's access to food during emergency situations
  • Supporting peace building and conflict resolution initiatives
  • Supporting enrolment and retention of children in school
  • Building the capacity of local governance institutions, civil society, and community groups
  • Working with others to advocate for the rights of pastoralists
In line with these objectives, Oxfam commissioned the manufacture and supply of a pilot PROtector treatment system for the village of Longech. A number of alternative technologies were considered, including 'solar stills', 'bone char' defluoridation and solar powered reverse osmosis; but a heavy duty design and simple operation made PROtector the preferred option.

Continue to Part 2. Program Setup and PROtector Installation

Children collecting drinking water directly from the lake in Longech, Turkana.

The Problem:
According to the UN, water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, taking the lives of more than 6,000 people every day. Such diseases are contracted from drinking unsafe, contaminated water  in  locations where
  adequate treatment is either unpractical or unaffordable. The total number of people around the globe without sustainable access to safe drinking water currently stands
  at over 1 billion - a shocking figure which equals one sixth of the world's population. Whilst the common consensus is to dig wells and drill boreholes, the extracted water is often brackish (salty) due to having a high mineral content – and in many parts of the world, groundwater contains harmful ‘dissolved’ contaminants such as fluoride and arsenic. Furthermore, boreholes, wells and underground storage tanks are prone to contamination from surface run off, sewage and seawater- especially in the wake of a storm, flood, earthquake or other natural disaster.

PROTECTOR water purification systems are able to extract and treat water directly from boreholes, wells, streams, rivers and lakes. The systems use both ceramic and reverse osmosis (RO) filters to remove contaminants such as silt, colloidal particles, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, cysts, metals, fluoride and arsenic. This degree of filtration is also able to reduce salt from brackish water sources, to safe and palatable levels.

  Continue reading about PROtector Design...


Don't have time to find out more about the PROtector online? Grab a copy of our PDF documents and read them on the go!

PROtector Brochure

A general overview of the PROtector hand-powered water treatment system and what it is capable of.

Program Proposal

An example PROtector program proposal. This document is annotated with instructions on how to create a proposal for your PROtector program. An editable Microsoft Word version is also available.

Pilot Program Six Month Progress Report

Catch up on the latest from the PROtector pilot installation in Longech, Kenya in this exciting report.

PROtector Prgram Management White Paper

A guide aimed at helping organizations to establish a successful protector program. This white paper contains procedures for system monitoring, maintenance, reporting, troubleshooting and repair.

To download the above PDF's, right click on the file and select "save as".