BioSandFilter.org was conceived by Eric Fewster and Adriaan Mol. Together they started BushProof, a company registered in Madagascar in 2005, which owns and maintains this site.
BushProof’s mission is to significantly increase the quality of work and expertise in the water sector, both in Madagascar and abroad, through professional engineering services and innovative products that positively impact the health and wellbeing of people living in low-income countries.
The history behind this biosand filter resource
We started this website in 2004, primarily as a resource for people wanting to know more about household biosand filtration. At the time, we also had the idea to try to produce a cheap plastic stackable biosand filter, which we envisaged could be produced en masse and distributed via bush shops – this was in fact the idea that started BushProof as a company. With this idea, we got as far as a physical prototype, but it became clear that moulding costs were prohibitive, and more importantly that the final sale price of a filter was going to be more than 20 Euro, which in our view meant that this was not something viable for mass sales to poor people.
BushProof then went on to develop expertise in all other aspects of water supply and treatment, and through its work and the dedication of its staff, is one of the most renowned enterprises in Madagascar that is known for its quality of work.
Despite the initial setback with the prototype, we still remained involved with all things related to the biosand filter. This meant keeping the biosand filter website running, since we felt that it was a core part of how the business started and was valuable. This value was clear to us as we occasionally received feedback from people all over the world telling us that they had used the information on the site to produce filters and start up projects. And then there was the forum, a place where people have been able to ask questions and connect with other people interested in biosand filtration.
The value of the site was also validated in 2008, when research was published by the University of California, Davis, that demonstrated that hydraulic loading (the amount of water above the sand) was one of the factors important to filter efficiency at removing pathogens. This research had been started after the university made contact with us to help them design their research, after they got the idea from our ‘Further Research’ page sometime after we had set it up. The outcome from that was that our own filter design (as well as others) were modified so that the maximum height of water possible above the sand was reduced, resulting in improved water quality through a design enhancement alone.
Apart from this website, we continue to include biosand filtration it in our Technical Training in Water Infrastructure which we hold ever year in Madagascar (and have done so since 2006). And we have also run biosand-specific training in other countries as well (e.g. Kenya and Afghanistan). Some of these trainings have had very encouraging results – for example, the training we gave in Afghanistan where we advocated a model of selling filters (rather than distributing for free) was the precursor to an NGO producing over 15,000 filters through local entrepreneurs, with half those being sold for profit independently by local artisans.
So because of all of this, we remain committed to keeping this resource going. This has for now meant an upgrade of the website, which has taken some time to complete.