Aquabox, the charity which works to ensure that safe drinking water is available in disaster areas around the world, is working harder than ever to cope with rising demand.
The charity has been struggling to find a way to send relief to Yemen, to help people affected by the bitter civil war there, and finally managed to send a first shipment in August. 60 Aquabox Gold boxes left the charity’s depot in Derbyshire on the way to Liverpool, to be shipped to Yemen for onward distribution by Jubilee Outreach Yorkshire, which has set up a local infrastructure network based in neighbouring Oman.
“This is a trial shipment, to ‘prove’ the route,” said Aquabox chairman Roger Cassidy. “Once we know that the aid is being delivered safely to its destination, we can confidently increase the volume we send.”
Aquabox’s Aquafilter is a rugged hand-pumped unit which filters out particles down to 0.02micron, and converts river water, floodwater, stagnant water and most forms of contaminated water into safe drinking water. Each Aquabox Gold includes an Aquafilter, together with a selection of hand tools, kitchenware, sanitary and educational items which have been chosen to make life a little easier for people who have lost everything and are living on the edge of survival.
During the past few weeks, Aquabox has been put on the alert, following the news of the devastating floods that hit Kerala in Southern India. Working through charity partners in the neighbouring state of Kanataka, 240 Aquafilters were immediately despatched to India. This has been followed up my a shipment of 250 Aquabox Gold boxes to Cochin, in Western Kerala, for distribution among families being housed in temporary displaced persons camps. Aquabox is also scheduling to airfreight a further 240 family filters to the city of Trivandrum in Southern Kerala within the next few weeks, to provide potable water to families in this region and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases including cholera, typhoid and dysentery. This combined aid package has the potential to provide the water needs for 10,000 people.
The end of August also saw a further 250 Aquabox Gold boxes shipped to Cameroon, to provide safe drinking water for refugees fleeing from the conflict there. And the charity is trying to establish a secure route to Lombok, in Indonesia, where an estimated 400,000-plus people are homeless after the earthquake which hit the island in July.
The rise in demand has put new pressure on Aquabox, which is run and staffed almost entirely by volunteers. “We are stepping up production to meet the demand – and that puts pressure on us financially,” said Mr Cassidy. “We’re looking to all our supporters to help cover the increased costs, and we would welcome support from the water industry.”