Student - June 1, 2011

Water purification internships in Haiti for VHL students

Students at Van Hall-Larenstein in Leeuwarden can do internships in Haiti from next year. They will be training local people in the use and maintenance of portable water purifiers. A purpose-built Water School is going up in Haiti.

The WaterMaker can produce 300 to 600 litres of clean drinking water per day.
In February 2010, soon after the Caribbean island was devastated by an earthquake, VHL collected money for the portable water purifiers. But just delivering these 'WaterMakers' to the suffering country was not enough, concluded Leo Groendijk, teacher of Water Technology & Environmental Sciences and inventor of the portable purification unit.
According to Groendijk, it is important for the Haitian population to understand the need for water purification. 'The aim of the Water School is first and foremost knowledge transfer. What is polluted water, and when can you call water clean? How do you install and use a purifier, and how do you maintain it? The people need to know this to make sure they get clean drinking water in future too. This way, we want to create jobs by teaching young people how to purify water.'

Disaster zone
Students of Environmental Studies and Life Sciences can apply to do an internship in Haiti. The techniques used in the water purifiers are covered in these degree programmes. But it seems that the internship is not the right choice for everyone, observes Groendijk. 'Students respond enthusiastically at first. But once they find out more about the situation, some candidates drop out. It is still a disaster zone. The interested students are concerned about safety, insurance and the costs. We do our very best to make good arrangements on all this.'
The WaterPurifier weighs 20 kilos and works on solar power. The apparatus can produce 300 to 600 litres of clean drinking water per day, without using external electricity or chemicals. This makes it highly appropriate for use under primitive conditions.

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