All-India launch of TamRas – An innovative, affordable drinking water purification product
8 May 2017. In India and globally, traditional knowledge and practices are held in great esteem to secure personal and household health, food and nutritional securities. But, publicacceptance of using them has been limited.
Copper pots used for storing water in yesteryears have inspired a team of scientists in TransDisciplinary University to come up with their first product—a simple, ingenious,affordable devicethat will help resource poor households decontaminate drinking waterat home at practically no cost.
This device, called TamRas, literally, ‘essence of copper’, in Sanskrit, uses the property of copper ions to sterilize E. coli, rotavirus and typhoid and cholera-causing pathogens commonly found in drinking water. In a country where fecal contamination of drinking water is common, and 276 Mn BPL population unable to afford costlier solutions to purify water, and where mortality of under-five children due to infectious diarrhea, is as high as 18%, TamRas could prove to be a useful public health intervention tool.
TamRas is easy to use, requires no electricity, no recurring maintenance costs, and can be passed on from one generation to the next—just like grandma’s copper pots.
TamRas was unveiled to the public today in Bengaluru, in the presence of Chief Guest,
DrShalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka; the scientific and research community; government and non government partners, and funders for the research, Tata Trusts.
Dr Padma Venkat, Principal Investigator of the project, says, “We found that leaving contaminated water in copper pots overnight killed deadly pathogens like Vibrio cholerae, rotavirus and Shigellaflexneri. This seemed to be a simple method to save lives. The findings were published in the Royal Society journal. Since copper pots are expensive and difficult to maintain, we have come up with a contemporary design that does the job of the pot just as well, at a fraction of the cost and acts in half the time.
...I realized that filters and other water purification interventions, including chlorine tablets failed as a point-of-use intervention, because after a one-time purchase, people would not replace parts or maintain or make repeat purchases. So, I was convinced that whatever be the final form of the device, it had to be a simple and sustainable practice, which would not depend on anything else after purchase.”
TamRasconsists of a 15L container that can house an immersible copper unit calibratedto render 15 L water free of pathogens over an undisturbed period of 10 hours. Copper is also a micronutrient and hasseveral physiological benefits. Therefore the promise of TamRas is ‘More than just ‘safe’ water’. The current design of Tamras was arrived at after severaliterations and testing for aesthetics, compliance, convenience and cost. TamRaswillcost
Rs1500/- in the market and will be sold through a community-basedsocial enterprise model, wherein the local entrepreneur will not just bepromoting the product but also nudging behavior change in terms of betterwater, sanitation and hygiene practices. Our social research showed thatcommunities think that water is safe to drink if it looks clean; not aware ofdeadly pathogens that can get into it.
TDU envisages impacts if the device is acceptedand used across a large population.In order to make this possible, TDU hassought to build a self-sustaining model based on demand for the product fromthe bottom up, and its viability, commercially. A commercial, instead ofphilanthropic/giving model, means that lack of funding will not restrict accessto TamRas.
Karnataka is the firststate of launch—in three diverse topographies with issues of poverty, wateraccess and water quality: HD Kote, MM Hills and Raichur.
TDU research, marketing and branding work on this safe drinking water projecthas been supported with funds from Tata Trusts. Site partners are NGOs withmany years engagement with local communities—Jenugoodu-MYRADA in MM Hills, Samuha in Raichur and Swami VivekanandaYouth Movement in HD Kote, Manufacturing by ROONE Industries in Coimbatore.
Field research partners through Grand Challenges Canada grant are McGillUniversity, Canada, Action Africa Help international, Nairobi and SRMUniversity, Chennai.Initial laboratory research was through funds received fromDST, Government of India. Collaborations with scientists from NationalInstitute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata and CMC Vellore, helpedvalidate research findings.
For information on thescience, research and business model contact DrPadma Venkat at firstname.lastname@example.org
Forinformation on community engagement contact email@example.com
Toknow more about the social research component, contact DR BN Prakash firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Padma Venkat,contact Laliat email@example.com