Remote Belize Village With No Access to Safe Drinking Water Gets Solar-Powered Device to Suck It Out of the Air

On a distant island off the coast of Belize, there’s a fishing village that, traditionally, has relied on ferries to convey its residents consuming water in plastic bottles—a service that has now been disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caye Caulker Village is on the southern facet of Caye Caulker Island, about 20 miles northeast of Belize City. The island is round 5 miles lengthy and fewer than one mile extensive, with a inhabitants of roughly 2,000. It has poor entry to contemporary water, and storms and flooding imply it typically struggles to supply consuming water required. As such, it has relied on shipments of bottled consuming water delivered on ferries.

Belize introduced its first case of COVID-19 on March 23. According to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard, the nation has had 18 confirmed instances with two deaths. Since the beginning of April, the federal government in Belize has closed its borders to most vacationers. It additionally declared a state of emergency on April 1, stopping folks from going exterior between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. for 30 days. As Caye Caulker depends closely on tourism, its financial system has been badly impacted. Delays in delivery have additionally led to issues getting the common shipments of contemporary water.

Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker. The hydropanels have been put in on the native college and the group middle.

However, on the finish of 2019, an initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with the Belize Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, in collaboration with the consultancy agency Environmental Resources Management (ERM), led to the set up of Arizona-based Zero Mass Water’s hydropanels that flip air and daylight into consuming water. The set up of the panels in Caye Caulker, which was finished earlier than the COVID-19 outbreak, is a part of a wider undertaking known as the Caribbean Climate Smart Island Program of the IDB, which goals to display how these communities can transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient improvement pathway in sectors reminiscent of water, vitality and waste remedy, amongst others.

Cody Friesen is CEO and co-founder of Zero Mass Water. The companycompany sells hydropanels that generate water from the air and solar energy, even when humidity is as little as 10 p.c. “They work by using solar thermal energy to heat the surrounding air, and using solar-powered fans to move the heated air over a hygroscopic material inside the hydropanel,” Friesen instructed Newsweek. “This material, he said, only attracts pure water molecules. These are adsorbed by the material and move into a reservoir. The water collected is then treated to become “very pure consuming water, freed from contaminants, which is sustainably taken from the troposphere as an alternative of current aquifers,” he added.

The hydropanels put in in Caye Caulker.
Environmental Resources Management ERM

In Caye Caulker, 23 hydropanels have been put in on the Roman Catholic School and the Community Center. “Before this installation, the school and health center would purchase water directly from our provider, who would ship it to us in plastic bottles,” Seleny Villanueva-Pott, chair of the Caye Caulker Village Council, instructed Newsweek. “In the dry season, sometimes water would run low, meaning the island could go a few days without it. Now the children at the primary school and people who visit the Health Center have a constant supply.”

“The panels… have been a blessing for low-income families. They no longer have to send money with their children to purchase water at school.”

In whole, the hydropanels can produce as much as 911 gallons of consuming water per thirty days. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Caye Caulker group has opened up the set up to the remainder of the group, with virtually all of the water produced every day getting used.

Water shortage is an issue in nations internationally. According to the UN, 1.2 billion folks reside in areas the place water is scarce, whereas 1.6 billion “face economic water shortage, where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers.” The coronavirus pandemic has introduced the issue into focus. A key message from the World Health Organization (WHO) all through the outbreak has been the significance of handwashing—putting further strain on the already restricted useful resource. Without an everyday provide of fresh water, the danger of an infection will increase.

In the longer term, local weather change is predicted to extend the variety of folks dealing with water shortage. “With the existing climate change scenario, almost half the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030,” the UN says.

Friesen mentioned Zero Mass Water has carried out tasks to put in hydropanels in over 40 nations. “We’re working to bring renewable water to people facing water stress as quickly as possible,” he mentioned. “Access to clean water is a human rights issue, the better access people have to clean water, the more happy, fair and productive their lives can be. The biggest concern over the coming decade is that climate change will compound the challenges we see today, with extreme weather, pollution and increased global conflict over clean water sources. Investing in clean water now means that we can do our part to help alleviate some of the future stresses we’ll see and be more resilient in the future.”

In Caye Caulker, the hydropanels have additionally helped scale back the quantity of plastic waste being produced. It is estimated the panels will offset round a million single-use plastic bottles. Another one in every of Zero Mass Water’s installations in Timor-Leste has additionally helped decrease waste. Like Caye Caulker, the distant island off the east coast of East Timor additionally relied on bottled water being shipped in.

caye caulker
Bottles of water being delivered to Caye Caulker
Environmental Resources Management ERM

Villanueva-Pott mentioned lowering plastic waste is necessary to Caye Caulker village: “We strive to be greener and more self-sufficient throughout the island, so the installation of the hydropanels will allow us to use much less plastic,” she mentioned.

Zero Mass Water’s hydropanels are in the stores for private use, with two models costing between $5,500 and $6,500. The set up at Caye Caulker Village was totally funded by the IDB and there was no operational value to the group.

“These panels are important for people to have in areas where water is scarce,” Villanueva-Pott mentioned. “It makes water out of the atmosphere and the technology behind it is truly amazing. With climate change, we are expected to see longer periods of the dry season, so this installation will keep our school with a constant supply of drinking water. We no longer have to worry about a water shortage or if the ferry does not come in.”

Correction 04/29 2.55 a.m.: This article has been corrected to say your complete array of hydropanels produces 911 gallons of water per thirty days.

Update: This article has been up to date to incorporate extra details about firms concerned within the undertaking.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends sporting a material face masking in public the place social distancing measures are troublesome to take care of.
  • A easy material face masking might help gradual the unfold of the virus by these contaminated and by those that don’t exhibit signs.
  • Cloth face coverings could be usual from home items. Guides are supplied by the CDC.
  • Cloth face coverings needs to be washed often. A washer will suffice.
  • Practice protected elimination of face coverings by not touching eyes, nostril, and mouth, and wash arms instantly after eradicating the masking.

World Health Organization recommendation for avoiding unfold of coronavirus illness (COVID-19)
Hygiene recommendation

  • Clean arms regularly with cleaning soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash arms after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; earlier than, throughout and after meals preparation; earlier than consuming; after utilizing the bathroom; when arms are visibly soiled; and after dealing with animals or waste.
  • Maintain at the very least 1 meter (3 ft) distance from anybody who’s coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your arms, nostril and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nostril with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue instantly and clear your arms.

Medical recommendation

  • Avoid shut contact with others when you have any signs.
  • Stay at residence when you really feel unwell, even with delicate signs reminiscent of headache and runny nostril, to keep away from potential unfold of the illness to medical services and different folks.
  • If you develop critical signs (fever, cough, problem respiratory) search medical care early and phone native well being authorities prematurely.
  • Note any current contact with others and journey particulars to supply to authorities who can hint and forestall unfold of the illness.
  • Stay updated on COVID-19 developments issued by well being authorities and observe their steering.

Mask and glove utilization

  • Healthy people solely must put on a masks if taking good care of a sick particular person.
  • Wear a masks if you’re coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are efficient when utilized in mixture with frequent hand cleansing.
  • Do not contact the masks whereas sporting it. Clean arms when you contact the masks.
  • Learn easy methods to correctly placed on, take away and get rid of masks. Clean arms after disposing of the masks.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing naked arms is simpler in opposition to catching COVID-19 than sporting rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can nonetheless be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

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