Field Report - 2012-2013
ASIA TRANSPACIFIC FOUNDATION (ATF) CONTINUES TO GROW AND SUPPORT LOCAL BURMESE VILLAGES
Thanks to the generous donations of our travelers, we now have a total of eight ceramic filter factories up and running in Myanmar (Burma). Hundreds of thousands of filters have been distributed throughout the country, resulting in a significant decrease in waterborne diseases. We have gained national recognition for our Clean Water Initiative, as the 2009 recipient of Travel + Leisure magazine's Global Vision Award. In 2011, we were also honored to receive First Place in the Educational Travel Conferences’ Responsible Tourism Showcase Award for this project.
In the past several years, we have been working more directly with local women in Myanmar. Together, we have helped them to develop a more robust filter distribution and education system, parlaying it into a successful cottage industry. For example, the local women will often set up “Waterware Parties” (similar to Tupperware parties in U.S. in the 1960s) to demonstrate how the filters are used and to help spread the word on good hygiene. To aid their endeavors, we provide kits that contains:
- A loaned DVD player
- DVDs showing animated videos on filter benefits and correct use
- Cartoon booklet - which explains (to those who can not read) water borne germs and the spread of them
- Posters that teach water hygiene and filter use
- An actual ceramic water filter
- A hygiene kit that includes soap and hand washing education
- A wash basin
Using this simple kit, some women sell 90 filters per month, earning a modest but much needed income. So far, over 3,000 filters have been distributed in this way. The Asia Transpacific Foundation was pleasantly taken by surprise at the success of this enterprising initiative. Wishing to empower the local community, we are committed to ensuring our ceramic clay water filters can be produced and distributed locally, providing much-needed jobs. The local community is also encouraged to distribute them to those in need. Since 2007 we have successfully provided clean water and safe water education to nearly 1.1 million Burmese villagers.
Furthermore, we are discovering that using locally produced, ceramic clay filters have the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions, since most households formerly boiled their water to purify it, cutting trees and burning the wood for fuel. Our initiative is drastically reducing tree harvesting and also reducing the levels of fire smoke throughout those rural areas where the filters are in use.