Lifestyle Technology

Meet the 24 y/old who made drinking poop water a reality for Msians

You know in Singapore people drink their own poop and pee right? OMGWTBLEURGHH!

spit take asian man

Image from shesallhifives.tumblr.com

For a country that’s rich in everything else, they’re very poor when it comes to water. Of its total water supply, only 30% comes from its own reservoirs, 10% from sea water, and 30% is imported from Malaysia!

But their 100-year contract to import from us is gonna expire in 2061, so they hadda look for other options fast. That’s how their gomen came up with the idea to treat wastewater and turn it into safe, drinkable NEWater!!

Singapore’s not the only country that turned toilet water into clean water. Actually Spain, US, Israel and Scandinavian countries are doing it. And now, Malaysia might start very soon……

 

WHAAAT?! WHY Malaysians need to drink pee water also!?

Eh, we thought we have so much water here until we can export to Singapore summore, why we need to drink from the toilet?

cat drinking from toilet bowl

Ori image of kitty from city-data.com

Oh actually, it’s for rural and flood-relief areas. You see, it’s difficult for communities there to get even the most basic utilities like clean water and electricity.

So there’s this Malaysian company called Saora Industries turning WASTE water into CLEAN drinking water. Founded in September 2014 by 24-year-old (OMG what are we doing with our lives??) Ganesh Muren (who’s also the CEO), Saora built 2 water filtration systems that:

  1. Are VERY cost-efficient, only costing 0.008 sen per litre!!
  2. Are solar-powered, for locations that don’t have electricity 😀

We contacted Ganesh, who was just recently featured in Tatler along with other Malaysian social entrepreneurs.

“The first one is called Waterlily for normal home use. The second is called Tardigra8. This one is more robust and used for disaster relief work, like the floods in Kelantan. You can drop it on the ground, it won’t break.” – Ganesh told CILISOS over the phone

We won’t go so much into the technical part otherwise all our brains kemek, but basically the system has filter cartridges that removes all the bacteria, fungi and junk the water, according to international safety standards. The unit can produce up to 30,000 litres of water at only US$50-60. For a family of 4, it last them 4-5 years, but that depends on usage la.

saora industry water filter units

The 2 types of water filters from the slides that Ganesh shared with us

Eh, so why don’t these villages use Diamond or Coway? Coz in certain areas, communities don’t even have electricity! But Saora’s water filters actually come with 2 LED lamps powered by solar energy, aaand, it has 2 USB ports, so can charge phones oso. “In rural communities, people use kerosene lamps at night. The smoke is bad for their health. Using our systems, the kids can even study at night. So, we’re not just selling a product. We’re giving underprivileged people a new lifestyle,” said Ganesh.

So anyway, you can literally drink water from the toilet or the Klang river and not get sick! Putting his money where his mouth is, Ganesh did a public show on 21 Nov, where he demo-ed the Tardigra8. Previously, they’d tested it with Klang river water, but this time, they upped the game….with water from the Klang river, campur COW DUNG, dirt, soil, URINE and a whole buncha other nasties! Ermagerd.

ganesh muren cow poop donor. Image from FB

Ganesh with the cow that donated its poop and urine for the demo. Image from FB

So what was it that inspired him to do all this? Singapore?

 

The personal tragedy that inspired a C-grade project…

Ganesh and Mira from village KL

Ganesh and Mira, a little 6-year-old girl who was the inspiration to Saora Industries

When he was a 2nd year Mechanical Engineering student in INTI, he went backpacking in India like many students do. But instead of coming home with just nice pictures to upload on Facebook, he had an inspiration. In India, he first realised that many parts of the world had a huge problem getting clean water. So for his final year project, he decided to build a prototype solar water filter.

Back in Malaysia, he posted himself in a village near KL to learn more about Malaysia’s problem with clean water. He was shocked that almost 100 native families who live so near the city can’t even get clean water. He became close to the locals and got to know a family with a bubbly 6-year-old daughter named Mira. Unfortunately, the family regularly suffered from diarrhea because they water they drank was dirty.

Shortly after this very educational trip, Ganesh returned to college to finish his prototype.

Ganesh Muren water purification prototype INTI. Image from laureate.net

Ganesh and his prototype. Image from laureate.net

“The academicians were skeptical. I only got a C for it. But they had invited industry partners. I got an award from the industry partners.” – Ganesh

Excited to show Mira and her family the prototype, Ganesh returned to the village. He even bought presents for the other village kids!

But sadly when he got there, Mira’s family told him that she had died from the effects of excessive diarrhea – loss of water and minerals. Devastated by the news, Ganesh chucked aside his prototype because he couldn’t bear to even look at it.

Three few months later in March 2013 however, he realised there were Malaysians like Mira who are suffering without clean water. And he was determined to do something about it.

So his next stop was Sarawak… and this is how some of them drink water.

Sabah village child drink dirty water

Image from Ganesh’s slides

So if they want to drink clean water, have to buy mineral water bottle lor. While we urban people only need to walk a few steps to the kitchen to get a glass of water, these villagers travel 2-3 hours into town to buy mineral water bottles, Ganesh explained. 

He started Project HAUS, funded by Yayasan Siti Sapura Husin. You can watch the video here, where the company installed water filtration units for the orang aslis.

 

And now, Saora is looking at bigger things!

For the MOST COMMON substance on the planet, water sure is difficult to come by. Only 1% the earth’s water is suitable for drinking, while 97% is ocean or sea water.

tom hanks raft cast away sea water

Unedited image from quotesgram.com

Saora’s initial groundwork in Sarawak had brought such great impact on the lives of those few families, that Ganesh wants to do MORE. He’s hoping his water filtration units can serve 1,000 families by next year! But to help SOOO many families, he’s gonna need government help with funding.

One of the setbacks Saora face is simply being a local company. Many companies from First World countries came here, but you can imagine how much higher they’d charge for it. But Ganesh knows his products can work just as well to clean water and make it safe enough for drinking. “If they don’t give us a chance, how can we show that our system is just as good? We just really need a chance, you know,” he said.

As you can guess, it’s been a rough ride. But when he experiences downers, he goes back to the village in Sarawak and stay there for a while…

“These people inspired me. They’re the reason why I started this. It’s a basic human right to have access to clean water. If this is not there, how can they achieve anything at all?” – Ganesh

Ganesh and Sarawak kid

Ganesh with a kid from a Sarawak village, who doesn’t need to buy mineral water bottles now that his house has a filter. Click to watch the video

Not bad, eh. Who knew a C-grade project could be the answer to Malaysia’s water woes!

So if you want to help Ganesh in any way, even volunteer work, the best way to get in touch with him is on Saora Industries’ Facebook page or go to the website.

 

NAH, BACA:
[UPDATE] If you like cosplaying, you can now show off your skills to Malaysian clubbers

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