Post B: Water is a Basic Human Right

Water is a basic need for humans. It is a necessity that as humans we have many purposes for, drinking, domestic use, production use and recreational use. In 2010 water was recognised as a human right to water and sanitation through UN Resolution 64/292, recognising clean drinking water and sanitisation as essential. Access to water seems to be infinite in developed countries, with clean water at the twist of your hand. With many developing countries struggling to access to clean water, solutions to provide clean water have been developing for years.

[WHO,2017] Startling statics show

  • At least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces
  • Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause 502000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.
  • In low and middle incomer countries, 38% of health care facilities lack improved water source, 19% do not have improved sanitation and 35% lack water and soap for hand wash.

A product solution to those who have limited access to clean water or their only access to water is surface water, LifeStraw developed a straw that filtered contaminated water into drinkable water. Development started in 1994 when Carter Centre approached Swiss company Vestergaard to develop a filter to filter out Guinea worm larvae from water that was contaminated. Having designed a cloth filter to a more refined and effective pipe, the product has help many developing countries especially those after massive natural disasters to have access to drinkable water.

The design of the straw allows water to go through various process of filtration. First through mesh, followed by polyester mesh, then through chamber of beads then finally through granulated active carbon to filter out remaining parasites. This tolerates around 1000 litres of water, meaning it will last around 1 year before it needs to be replaces, although there is no alternate way to replace but to get a new unit each year.

Vestergaards core values is centred around “dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable people, most of whom live in developing countries”[Vestergaard, 2017]. While the LifeStraw started towards helping developing countries have drinkable water, they have expanded it into a business providing for survival uses. The design initiative to create a solution to drinkable water though only temporary provides many in developing countries their human right. Though temporary, this allows technology and governments to take a step forward in providing clean water for public health for those in need.



[1] World Health Organisation 2017, Drinking-Water, viewed on 15th February 2017, <>

[2] Vestergaard 2017, About-Us, Viewed 16th February 2017, <>

Life Straws 2017, Our Story, viewed on 16th February 2017, <>

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2010, Human Right to Water, viewed on 16th February 2017, <>

How Stuff Works, How LifeStraw Works, viewed on 16th February 2017, <>

Earth Easy 2015, Details, viewed on 16th February 2017, <>




2 thoughts on “Post B: Water is a Basic Human Right

  1. A great little device! It’d be interesting to see how they would be distributed to the areas that need drinkable water the most.

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