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Asia Transpacific Journeys

Field Report - 2011-2012

Asia Transpacific Foundation (ATF) continues to evolve, and our projects took big steps forward in 2011.

Thanks to the generous donations of our travelers we now have a total of five ceramic filter factories up and running in Myanmar. 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.

This past year the ceramic filter project took a delightful, unforeseen turn. Local women in Myanmar (Burma) began getting very involved in filter distribution, and another cottage industry has sprung up.

Many are finding a way out of poverty by distributing the filters to rural areas by setting up “Waterware Parties” (similar to Tupperware parties in U.S. in the 1960s). They spread the word on hygiene, and keeping the family healthy by filtering water through the ceramic clay filters produced at a facility funded by Asia Transpacific Foundation. Currently your donations are funding the following, part of the Waterware Party kit.

  • Loaned DVD player
  • DVDs showing animated videos on filter benefits and correct use
  • Cartoon booklet
  • 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 sold 90 filters in one month, earning a modest but much needed income. So far this year 2,500 filters were distributed in this way. Asia Transpacific Foundation was pleasantly taken by surprise at this development, which was thought up by the local women on their own initiative.

Furthermore, we are discovering that the ceramic filters have the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions, since most households formerly boiled their water to purify it, cutting trees and burning the fuel to create fire in the process. Our Myanmar clean water initiative is drastically reducing tree harvesting and fire smoke throughout those rural areas where the filters are in use.