Terraclear - Clean water access for families in Laos

In Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a major study published in 2018 found that 86.3% of members had E. coli in household drinking water, indicating risk of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. Although a significant portion of the population treats water by boiling using woody biomass or charcoal to make it safe for drinking, many families cannot afford the time to gather firewood or purchase charcoal and are forced to continue drinking unsafe water.

TerraClear is a social enterprise, registered as a private limited company under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. The enterprise addresses the problem of limited access to safe, clean drinking water through the sale of the Lao Ceramic Water Purifier (CWP), which helps people:

  • Access safe drinking water, especially in rural areas
  • Reduce time spent collecting firewood or boiling drinking water
  • Reduce costs for families
  • Reduce child and adult morbidity and mortality
  • Improve attendance at school 
  • Increase productivity

Ceramic Water Purifiers remove microorganisms from water by gravity filtration through porous ceramics, with a typical flow rate of up to 55 liters per day.

During the project’s first period from June 2012 through July 2019, TerraClear sold and distributed filters to 70,181 households. In the following seven year period, the water purifiers will provide safe drinking water for potentially more than half a million people, and at the same time reduce the demand for water treatment through boiling water with non-renewable biomass. The water purifiers have a useful life of seven years or more, given proper care and maintenance, and are replaceable. The Lao Ceramic Water Purifiers are manufactured locally in Laos and therefore contribute to building a local industry in the country, as well as creating sustainable jobs and business opportunities in rural areas.

With the assistance of carbon finance, TerraClear will continue to be a unique and sustainable enterprise capable of providing emissions-free household water treatment options to rural households; thereby improving public health, contributing to household economy, and helping to conserve the local forests. 

TerraClear is breaking down the barriers that make clean water access a challenge for rural communities. Creative strategies and community focused education and promotion are allowing TerraClear to change lives a few liters at a time -- providing access to safe drinking water through the manufacture and distribution of more than 70,000 ceramic filters reaching an estimated 300,000 people in over 1000 villages in Laos.

Project impacts and benefits

  • 15,000 tonnes of CO2e saved annually by the project
  • 20-30 litres of clean water - the average daily household consumption fully met by each filter
  • 65,000 households benefiting from filter use

For every 1000 carbon credits purchased: 

  • $15,800 value of avoided forest degradation*
  • 12 hectares of avoided forest degradation*
  • 25 cases of Acute Lower Respiratory Infection (ALRI) treatment avoided*

*Figures are based on Social Return on Investment (SROI) of Nexus for Development’s model for the project’s last monitoring period (MP2, July 2016).

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