Oct 15, 2022 4 min read

“Droplets from the sun”

Hi there.

I am glad you could join us this week.

Even as reports about the impacts of climate change dominate the news cycles, Pakistan stood out because of the extensive flooding.

I hope you got to read the insightful story from Pakistan that we published recently in Nextblue. You can find the link in the Story of the Week section below.

With one-third of the country under the flood waters, the consequences were sure to flare up. Yes, water-borne diseases! What an irony. You are surrounded by water and yet there is no safe water to drink.

Amidst all the devastation and difficulties, it was heartwarming to read about one agency that sprung to action immediately, to alleviate the situation.

As you may have read in the story, Bondh E Shams, a start-up installed portable, solar-powered filtration units to convert available water – yes, flood waters – into potable water.

Today we bring you an exclusive interview with Hamza Farrukh, the founder of Bondh E Shams, to learn more about their work.

Hamza Farrukh, founder of Bondh E Shams

“Droplets from the sun”

Climate change necessitates innovative solutions. Surrounded by flood waters, people in Pakistan had no clean, safe water to drink. Bondh E Shams, a start-up, used its potable, solar-powered innovative filtration units to convert the flood water into safe drinking water, thus averting water-borne diseases where they were installed.

Rida Shah speaks to Hamza Farrukh, the founder of Bondh E Shams, on behalf of Nextblue.

Nextblue: Tell us about your work in Pakistan’s flood-affected areas? How did the idea of using flood water as the source come about?

Farrukh: We have now deployed 12 units for the flood-affected people in Pakistan across Sindh, Southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Each unit serves an estimated 2,000 people with drinking water.

The idea came as an outcome of our work in Sindh over the past two years where local people rely on water from contaminated open ponds. I talk about this in detail in this LinkedIn Article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/innovation-tech-leadership-bondh-e-shams-responds-pakistan-farrukh/

Nextblue: What does Bondh E Shams mean? What was the inspiration behind your innovation?

Farrukh: Bondh E Shams means “droplets from the sun.”

I contracted typhoid as a young child by drinking contaminated water from a well in my ancestral village. Bondh E Shams is my way of giving back and ensuring that no child falls ill from such a disease in my village again.

We have been doing this work since 2014 and we are now serving people in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Nextblue: How does the OASIS box work? Is OASIS an acronym? What is the technology behind it and how is it different from the other water filtration techniques?

Farrukh: This has now been rebranded as Solar Water Box. We are using a mix of ultrafiltration and ion exchange. These technologies exist elsewhere but our work hopes to make robust, existing filtration tech available to last-mile communities across the world.

Nextblue: Is the filtration system designed / customised for each place after testing the groundwater? Is it designed for local government’s potable water standards or WHO standards? Generally what percentage is the reject water and how is it drained?

Farrukh: No, we have standardised units now. Each Solar Water Box can provide an estimated 1,000 litres per day. The output water is tested using government-approved/ WHO-standard labs.

Reject water is a concept in the reverse osmosis (RO) system. It’s not relevant for ultrafiltration. In order to maintain the filter, we actively back-wash them as often as necessary. We make this easy by providing a special lever in each box.

Nextblue: What is the output of one unit? When the need is more, do you increase the capacity of the unit or install more units?

Farrukh: Both are possible but the reality of last-mile communities is that they tend to be smaller in size. WHO recommends 2L (litres) drinking water per person/ day. At a capacity of 10,000L per day, our units can cater up to 5,000 people (again, much larger than usual need)

Nextblue: What do you plan to do with the units in flood relief camps after the people are rehabilitated?

The same units will be transported to nearby villages for operation thereafter.

Nextblue: How much does the system cost?

Farrukh: Each system costs $5,000. This includes delivery, installation, maintenance for five years and replacement of filters.

This level of service is possible because of a unique remote water monitoring and alert system that Bondh E Shams is developing. Each unit is fitted with a device that monitors and transmits (using internet) the quantity, quality (total dissolved solids or TDS) and geo-location of a project.

We hope to use this hourly data to better manage last-mile projects and respond rapidly to avoid long periods of project breakdown, which is a very common issue for conventional hand pumps.

Nextblue: What is the life of the filter? Is the local community involved in the operation and maintenance of the system?

Farrukh: Each filter can last for 3-5years based on usage and the quality of input water. In order to compensate for the differing qualities, Bondh E Shams takes responsibility for filter breakdown and replacement for five years.

We work very closely with local communities to install and monitor our projects.

Nextblue: Can you share data on the impact of your intervention – especially on reduction in water-borne diseases if possible?

Farrukh: Data on reduction of water-borne disease, especially from water-affected areas is hard to come by. However, we can share that Bondh E Shams is using field test kits developed by LETZTEST to check for the presence/ absence of E. Coli to rapidly check for contamination, while we wait for lab tests.

Story of the Week

Pakistan’s floods show the need for tech-based climate solutions

Pakistan’s floods show the need for tech-based climate solutions

With intense rainfall that led to one-third of Pakistan being flooded, yet leaving people water-stressed, experts speaking to Rida Shah emphasise the need for better forecasting technology and preparedness, and finding innovative solutions to cope with climate-induced disasters.

Tweet of the Week

Wrap up

Thanks for being here. As always, follow us at @Nextbluestories.

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See you next time,


Joep Janssen
Joep Janssen
Founder and editor-in-chief Nextblue
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