A Manx woman, now based in Pakistan, is appealing for support with a project which is revolutionising access to clean water in some of the poorest areas of the world.
Sana Ibrahim was born and raised on the island and spent most of her summers in the Pakistani city of Karachi. She is now volunteers for Bondh E Shams, a global water charity bringing the gift of clean water to those around the world who lack clean water using an innovative, affordable, scalable solar-powered all-in-one water pump and filtration system, called the OASIS Box.
After leaving the island for uni, Sana completed her undergrad at Birmingham before going onto Law school in London. She then started volunteering for NGO’s/undertaking human rights internships in various locations including Palestine, amongst others.
After completing her training contract and qualifying as a lawyer, Sana started working in the international development sector full-time (the Council for At-Risk Academics) NGO based in London. It was around this time Sana met Hamza Farrukh and started working on developing the UK chapter of Bondh E Shams with him with an amazing global team that continues to grow and grow and is now registered in the US, UK and Pakistan.
Hamza Farrukh and Bondh E Shams
Hamza Farrukh is a truly remarkable guy, talking to him he has a quiet demeanor, but the work he has done speaks for itself. Coming from Pakistan, he has first hand experience of the dangers of waterborne diseases and went on to gain a place at university in America. In 2014 while studying at Williams College, USA, he won a Davis Projects for Peace grant and created a solar-powered water filtration solution for his village.
Speaking to Gef, he explained how the traditional focus on installing handpumps in areas which struggle to access clean water, is not the way forward. Hamza said: ‘It started off as an idea to bridge the gap between what I saw was vast access to resources and privilege here in the west and the lack of privilege that I saw back in my village. So in that sense the project focuses on two key things. Firstly, the global water crisis, which affects 1.2bn people and we’re doing our part to try and deliver long-lasting renewable and robust solutions to that. Secondly it was about how we can do a better job to link those who want to help and be part of the solution and not be on the sidelines.’
Sana added: ‘Growing up on the Isle of Man, I know we feel very removed from the impact of these problems, they don’t affect our daily lives. But we’re trying to create a global platform and one of the key messages of that is that no matter where you are in the world, you can affect change and create an impact, you don’t have to be physically active in the regions. The Isle of Man is very charitable and I know from previous experience that when you reach out to the community for help, they always give you what they can.’
A 21st Century Solution
We’ve all seen the water adverts where a celeb does a voice over encouraging us to donate to help give the gift of water. However, Hamza said that while the intentions are good, the results can often vary as the technology isn’t supporting the aims. He added that the often used hand pumps ‘aren’t even 20th century technology’.
He said: ‘The solution that we have created is called the OASIS Box and it has really four key features.’
Firstly, the OASIS Box is completely solar powered so it doesn’t require to be on the grid which is important in reaching the ‘last mile’ communities which are most off grid where there is no infrastructure to support electricity based schemes. The majority of the most water deprived people are in those regions.
Hamza continued: ‘It is basically an alternative to the use of hand pumps. The most common way we have tried to take on the global water crisis is by installing hand pumps which are not actually not a great way of tackling the problem as they tend to break. Recent surveys have shown that 30/40% of hand pumps installed in the last 20 years are broken which lends to exasperating the problem by using sub par techniques to deal with that problem.’
With the OASIS Boxes, the solar panels power the box to extract water from the ground and lakes, as well as collecting rainwater, but importantly they also filter the water. Each box, when installed, can last for up to 25 years, with the charity also able to monitor them through a mobile management system.
To hear Hamza speak about the boxes and what drives him, you can see his TEDx talk here.
If you want more info on the work Sana, Hamza and Bondh E Shams do or to donate to the charity, you can do so by visiting their website.
Worldwide it aims to raise $1m to provide fresh, clean, safe drinking water for those who need it most, ($1 gives 1 person clean water for 25 Years) and it hopes to provide two million litres each day for 25 Years.