THE MORINGA PROJECT: How to purify contaminated, dirty, turbid water using moringa seeds in the villages

How to purify contaminated, dirty, turbid water using moringa seeds in the villages

Most villages across developing nations of the world, especially in Africa, suffer from water shortage year in year out. Villagers do not have potable water as we have in the cities. If you have ever visited a typical village in Africa, you would have observed this especially during the dry season. It is a challenge faced by these poor people. 

I remember visiting a village where people bathe and defecate inside the stream from which others downstream got their drinking water from! This is quite pathetic but true. In another place I visited, the water presented looked like 'tea'. 

The look meant that the water is dirty, contaminated and turbid. And you know what? Sometimes the water is smelly at the same time. But they are used to drinking it since they have no choice. No wonder you find water borne diseases especially among children in these villages. Sighs! 

Below is a list of common diseases these villagers are exposed to o drinking contaminated water.

Common Contaminated Water borne diseases

According to UN, 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. 

Drinking contaminated water can lead to these water borne diseases. 
1. Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is usually caused by bacteria, viruses or protozoa in contaminated water. It is the cause of about 1.8 million deaths per year.

2. Cholera
Cholera is an acute bacterial infection of the intestinal passage that causes diarrhoea. I remember a case of an outbreak of cholera in parts of Nigeria in 2014 that claimed lives of many children. This was due to contaminated water.

3. Guinea worm
Guinea worm disease is also known as dracunculiasis, usually contracted by drinking water which has been contaminated by dracunculus larvae. 

4. Typhoid
Typhoid is another deadly disease caused mostly by drinking contaminated water. It presents with symptoms like headache, nausea and loss of appetite. Annoyingly many people do not know when they are infected and treat the symptoms which resemble malarial fever. This sometimes causes avoidable deaths. According to UNICEF, about 18 million people are infected with  typhoid yearly.

Negligence or Inadequate/Non availability of  water treatment substances?

In most of the affected areas, there is inadequate or non availability of water treatment substances. The most common coagulants are alum and ferric salts (chloride or sulfate). But most times the villagers do not use them. These substances are not expensive but could it be poverty? Or is it due to negligence? If it is poverty then the solution is to use moringa seeds that are very cheap which can be easily planted since they have lands.

What they can do - Plant Moringa trees.

If the villagers are enlightened about the efficacy of moringa seeds in the treatment of dirty, contaminated water and they plant moringa trees form which they can harvest the seeds to use, I believe the challenge will be handled when they use it to treat the turbid, contaminated, smelly and murky waters.

Hands holding moringa seeds

How to treat dirty, turbid water using moringa seeds

Hands holding moringa seeds.



The following guide shows how to treat water using moringa seeds.  The crushed seeds of moringa trees (Moringa oleifera lam and Moringa peregrina) are particularly effective coagulants, comparing favorably with alum in terms of removal of turbidity. A dosage of 200 mg crushed seeds or one moringa seed per litre of water is suggested as for best results.

Step one

Pluck Moringa pods from the trees and break open to remove the seeds.

Step two

Dehull(remove the skin) of the moringa seeds like you do to peanuts before eating. You may use your hands or use mortal and pestle in the village.

Step three

Measure the volume of the dirty, contaminated, murky water. For simplicity, fill a four(4) litre galon with water to the brim. This way, you will certainly know that it is four litres you have. Now use four Moringa seeds for this volume of water.

Step four

Grind the moringa seeds with a mortal or stone grinder, the type the villagers use for crushing pepper manually so as to get a powder from the moringa seeds. You may sieve the seeds to obtain a smooth powder just in case it is full of granules after crushing. Usually moringa seeds are oily so you have to first dry them very well under the sun to reduce the water and oil content before crushing. 

You can use moringa seed cake in place of the moringa seeds. This cake is the chaff gotten after extracting moringa oil from the seeds.

Step five

Mix the powder obtained in step four with some clean water, to form a paste like you do when preparing 'pap' or custard. The idea is to make it soluble first before introducing to the bad water you intend to purify.

Step six

Now that you have prepared the paste in step five above, using a spoon, scoop the paste and add to a cup of clean water. The size of the cup should not be more that 250ml. The size is somewhat like this diagram. This will give rise to a solution of the paste and water.

Step Seven

Filter the solution in the step six above and pour the resulting filtrate into the gallon of turbid, dirty water. 

Step Eight

Using a rod or stick of wood, stir the gallon of water vigorously for sixty seconds and then slowly for about 5 minutes. You may shake the gallon instead of stirring with the rod.

Step Nine

Leave the gallon of water idle for 2 hours so that the agglutinated bacteria would settle at the bottom of the gallon, leaving the clean clear water above.

Step Ten

The clean water in step nine can now be decanted to have the clean water separated from the dirty water below.
The above steps will give you clean water. But according to recent research findings,  the clean water obtained above is not yet safe for drinking. Read further to find out how to make it drinkable.

Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP)

Researchers at Penn State College of Engineering have made a discovery in their research in using moringa seeds for water purification.
Stephanie Butler Velegol, environmental engineering instructor at Penn State says women in ancient Egypt reportedly rubbed Moringa seeds on their clay water pots, and dried powder from crushed seeds has been used as a handwash for many years.
In recent years, the water-clarifying ability of Moringa powder was found to be due to a positively-charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP). When you crush the seeds and add them to water, this protein will kill some of the microbial organisms and cause them to clump together and settle to the bottom of the container. 
However, the dried seed powder alone is not ideal for water purification because the organic matter from the seed will remain in the water, providing a food source for any bacteria that have not been killed. As a result, water treated with this seed does not remain safe to drink after some time in storage says the Researchers.
In 2012, Velegol and a team of Penn State researchers published a paper showing that MOCP can easily be attached to grains of sand. When the sand is mixed with unsafe water, bacteria stick to the sand and are killed. The newly-clean water can then be removed and stored for later use. Then the sand can be rinsed to remove the organic matter and “recycled” for another round of purification.
In Velegol’s most recent study, published in the April edition of Langmuir, she, along with chemical engineering assistant professor Manish Kumar and chemical engineering students Kevin Shebek, Kathleen Lauser, Allen Schantz and Ian Sines, used a combination of cryogenic electron microscopy and fluorescence assays to discover that the cationic protein isolated from Moringa seeds kills water-borne bacteria by causing their cell membranes to fuse.
This study revealed the mechanism by which MOCP turns polluted water into safe drinking water.

But there are still questions to be answered before the Moringa protein can be used on a large scale to purify water.
However, in the villages the volume of water to be purified is ideal. Therefore this method is appropriate for water purification.
Kindly leave your comments below. Let me know what your thoughts. 

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