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21.03.2019 - News

Nigeria: Clean hands thanks to gravity

Terre des hommes (Tdh) innovates to improve sanitation and handwashing practices in crisis areas. The Gravit'eau project aims to greatly reduce the incidence of risks by offering a semi-autonomous water and soap recycling system, which is inexpensive, easy to install and requires little maintenance. The first field trials will be carried out in Nigeria from April to September 2019.

A wash basin with drinking water and soap that can be used for water supply and electricity. 1000 liters of water every year - this idea is going to be implemented by Tdh in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, E awag-Sandec  and Skat Consulting Ltd. The chosen place is for the Mafa displacement camp in Borno State, Nigeria, the epicenter of the regional humanitarian crisis. From next month, the prototypes will be offered to 200 children in child friendly spaces and an informal learning center.

Improve sanitation in the displacement camps

Water is scarce in crisis zones. In case of water shortage, the little potable water available is primarily used for drinking or cooking. In camps like the Mafa displacement camp, basic sanitation facilities are often difficult to access. The waiting time to get water supplies is around three to six hours. The situation becomes more challenging since part of the camp burned down in 2018 and tensions resurged in the north-east of the country between the Nigerian army and the jihadist group Boko Haram, triggering an increase in the number of the displaced persons. Sanitation and handwashing are relegated to second place in these circumstances. Nevertheless, proper hand-washing with soap helps control the spread of disease significantly. The WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programme has indicated its positive impacts: this simple act can lower the incidence of diarrhoea and pneumonia among young children by 50% and limit the risk of cholera epidemic.

The Gravit’eau project aims to provide a supply of clean water for sanitation purposes without resort to the basic necessity reserves. Such self-sustaining technology is an unprecedented solution in the humanitarian programmes, making hand-washing practice more convenient as well as sparing logistics works and saving costs. 

By the force of gravity

Gravit'eau uses a filter that operates by means of gravity. Filthy water is collected by a membrane that does not require electricity or any chemical input. This membrane is so thin that it does not allow bacteria or viruses to pass through. In order to reuse the clean water, please use the system. A similar system would also be tested for soap recycling. Developing this innovative tool will facilitate the improvement of the health of children affected by the humanitarian crisis.


This project is supported by Swiss Solidarity.


Photo credit: © Tdh / Camail