2 Oct 08 Pure Water

Pure Water
Pure Water

Pure Water is a brand name that has morphed to mean the product like Kleenex. As the makers of Kleenex would like you to call the product facial tissue the makers of Pure Water would like you to call the product water sachets. Pure Water is just that pure water sealed in 5×5 plastic water sachets. In Ghana before Pure Water you could buy water in bottles but that is relatively expensive or you could buy a plastic baggie full of water that was tied on the top. Of course in the tied baggie you had no idea if the water was clean or not.

The second day I was in Ghana I saw the water sachets. It was so weird. it’s just a square baggie sealed on all edges full of water. It contains 500ml of water. People were carrying them on their heads and one of the PCV Trainers bought a few. They only cost 5 pesowa (about 5 American cents).  I could not figure out how we were going to drink out of this weird thing, so I did as my mother taught me. When in an unfamiliar eating situation watch people who know what they are doing then follow their lead. The PCV Trainers bit a small part of one corner off and sucked and squeezed the water into their mouths.

I watched for a few mintues. Looked pretty easy. So I held the sachet in my right hand. Pinched a corner in my left hand and put the end in my mouth. I bit and ripped a little. Old Faithful!!!! Water Was Everywhere. On my hand, on my pants, down my front.  I have since refined my technique. First, do not squeeze the sachet with your right hand as you bite off the corner. Second. make  small holes in the corner and suck some of the water out before you try to rip off the corner. And last, I had to find just the right balance on the opposite corner when I wanted to set the sachet down. Drinking from these water sachets reminds me of nursing. You do not tip your head back like drinking from a bottle but suck the water out and squeeze the sachet to bring more water to your mouth.

I took pictuers of the water sachets and the machine used to make the pure water. I imagined a huge factory making the water sachets because I have seen large trucks filled with them. However in Ghana man/woman power is used more often than mechanical power. Abigail took me to her Uncle’s building. It has a number of small businesses in it. One of the businesses is a Pure Water company.

The room is the cleanest room I have seen in Ghana yet. The floor and about three quarters of the way up the walls is covered in white tile. It is spotless. The water comes from large poly tanks outside through four filters plus an ultraviolet light. Then it enters a silver machine that is about the height of a man and 3 x 4 feet. In the front of the machine are two row of plastic.  The machine seals the bottom and the sides of the sachet then fills it with water then seals the top and cuts it. The sachets either fall on the floor or into a large plastic tub.  They are then packed in larger plastic bags for delivery to the markets.

I have pictures of the machine, some men working, a bag of sachets and the Pure Water itself. Check for them on Flickr.  It’s too slow here to upload photos to WordPress but on the left gutter of my blog you will find a feed to my Flickr photos.

What I like about businesses in Ghana is that they are small. it’s a much more attainable goal to consider buying one water purifying machine vs setting up a whole factory to make purified water. In Sandema there are two pure water factories. My guide to the other factory, Apowo, was very proud that Sandema had two factories.

I think that this also reduces the debt load on individuals. It’s my guess that very few families or individuals carry any personal debt and even less carry that debt with traditional financial institutions. I think they may borrow from family. This is all guess work now but one thing I want to find out about.