SPRINGFIELD — Cyclone Idai in Mozambique could be one of the worst natural disasters ever in Southern Africa.
The situation is getting worse by the hour as aid workers are scrambling to save thousands of people who were stranded after the cyclone hit the country last week.
Convoy of Hope here in Springfield is also working to help.
The cyclone dumped rain over Mozambique for days even before it made landfall, causing widespread flooding.
That flooding has caused a crisis due to a lack of drinking water, but the Convoy of Hope is sending help in the form of a gadget that at first glance – you’d never expect to save lives.
A bucket, and a little plastic filter is all that Convoy of Hope needs to filter the filth from a fresh water source into drinkable water.
Assistant Director of International Disaster Services for Convoy is Ryan Grabill has been on over 75 disaster relief trips, and says the cyclone that hit Mozambique is unique.
“People were just so unprepared for it. In fact, the government there didn’t give out much warning. People didn’t know that the storm was going to be as intense as it was,” Grabill says.
The intensity of the flooding storm infected the water sources there with bacteria, so Convoy is sending over 300 of water filters to provide drinking waater.
“We use a filter called a Sawyer filter. It’s a .1 micron filter that filters out 99.9% of bacteria including cholera, which is a major issue in flood areas and especially in Mozambique,” says Grabill.
The Sawyer filter can clear up cholera in any fresh water source, even in dirty river water.
Convoy will either set the filters up in a community where people can come get water in one location, or have a filter per family. Grabill says the best thing about them is how easy they are to use.
“You take a bucket and drill a hole in it, and connect the pieces of the filter unit to it which includes a hose that runs to the filter,” Grabill says. “Then you fill up the bucket with the dirty water, and filter it out before hand to take out some of the bigger pieces.”
Once you let gravity take it’s course, bottoms up.
“It can be put right into a cup and drank straight from there, and it’s clean water, safe water,” says Grabill.
The Sawyer filters can clean 5 gallons of water in about 20 minutes, and they aren’t really made for hazardous chemicals. That requires something more adavanced, but this is a start.
Convoy is also sending help to Nebraska and Northeast Missouri for intense flooding there as well.