News | March 24, 2021

Water Filters Ready To Support Fight Against Coronavirus In The Developing World

Steve Allan and John Griffith
Left to right: Steve Allan, operations manager at The Safe Water Trust and John Griffith, founder and director of The Safe Water Trust.

Innovative water filtration technology developed in the UK can help tackle the threat of COVID-19 in the developing world.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) nearly 1.8 billion people around the world have to use healthcare facilities that operate without basic access to running water. As maintaining hygiene is one of the basic measures needed to curb the Coronavirus pandemic, limited access to safe water can have a severe impact on health.

Research presented in the WHO and UNICEF’s ‘Global Progress Report on WASH in Health Care Facilities: Fundamentals First’ document states that in the least developed countries, one in two facilities do not have access to drinking water, one in four don’t have hand hygiene at points of assistance, and three in five lack basic sanitation services.

The Grifaid Community filter, which is manufactured by North East England based not-for-profit company The Safe Water Trust, can help to tackle these problems by providing large groups of people with rapid, on demand access to safe water. This water can then be used for cleaning and drinking in hospital, medical clinics and vaccination centres.

Offering a flow rate of up to 300 litres per hour, the Grifaid Community Filter removes bacteria and viruses from water supplies using advanced membrane technology.

In addition to supporting hygiene in healthcare environments, the filters also help to improve the overall health of communities, particularly in rural areas where access to safe drinking water is limited.

A portable, compact unit, the Grifaid Community Filter can be easily transported to and set up at healthcare facilities. It filters water from a bucket or other receptacle, ready for immediate use.

Based in Washington, Tyne and Wear, The Safe Water Trust helps to bring safe drinking water to people in more than 40 countries across the world. It has more than 10 years of experience in developing Grifaid Water Filters and working with the disaster relief, humanitarian aid and overseas development sectors.

As well as Grifaid Community Filters, The Safe Water Trust also manufactures a more compact and lightweight Grifaid Family Filter. This has a flow rate of 90 litres an hour which enables it to rapidly provide families and small groups with large quantities of safe drinking and cleaning water on demand.

According to the UN, 3 billion people around the world lack basic handwashing facilities at home, and the Grifaid Family Filter can help to tackle this problem by providing a method of filtering water from lakes, wells or rivers in quantities suitable for family use.

Grifaid Water Filters, which are designed by renowned engineer John Griffith and developed with input from NGOs, do not require an electricity supply, do not need spare parts such as cartridges nor do they need cleaning chemicals to operate effectively. They can support families and communities in remote areas or in regions with limited infrastructure.

Grifaid Water Filters can also be used to provide long term access to safe water in areas where it is not possible to drill bore holes and safely draw on a supply of ground water.

By incorporating a built-in two-way cross flow cleaning system, Grifaid Water Filters can offer a long lifespan as filter membranes won’t become clogged and therefore do not need to be replaced. This saves costs in the long term and provides a more environmentally friendly and sustainable solution.

As well as helping communities to tackle immediate hygiene and health concerns, Grifaid Water Filters improve the lives of young people by reducing absences from school caused by waterborne disease. This helps young people to get a better education and improves their employment prospects, helping to break the cycle of poverty.

Over 2000 Grifaid Community Filters are being used successfully in schools and clinics around the world.
For instance, staff from South Tyneside Hospitals raised money to buy three filters for a hospital and community in Derwan, India – a village that the South Tyneside Hospitals staff help with healthcare support through the SVJC Charitable Trust.

The filters were delivered in 2014 and are still in use today. They are used to filter water from wells and have helped to significantly reduce waterborne diseases, as well as virtually eradicating roundworm infections which had previously been a major problem in the area.

John Griffith, director and founder of The Safe Water Trust, said: “I was shocked to hear how many clinics are without access to drinking water. How can people be safely vaccinated and treated without clean water? Action needs to be taken now to provide safe water to clinics in poor countries, if we are to conquer Coronavirus worldwide. We have a simple solution waiting on our factory shelves.

“The supply of safe drinking water to healthcare environments can also help to prevent illness amongst healthcare professionals who are working at the frontline against Covid-19, and so support developing nations’ efforts to tackle the crisis.”

Commenting on the use of Grifaid Community Filters in Derwan, Shelley Quantrill, Senior Theatre Sister and Chairman of SVJC Charitable Trust, at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Since 2014 there have been direct improvements in the health of the local population. This is a demonstration of a major benefit from Grifaid Community filters in the field.”

Grifaid Water Filters are also used by aid and relief organisations during humanitarian crises, due to their ability to filter both bacteria and viruses in one solution. Added to that, their compact size and portability also has benefits for storage, transportation and cost effectiveness.

The Safe Water Trust
The Safe Water Trust designs and manufactures Grifaid Water Filters, which enable NGOs, aid organisations and charities to provide quick, easy and long-term access to safe drinking water.

Based in Washington, North East England, The Safe Water Trust is a not-for-profit-company that helps to bring safe drinking water to people in more than 40 countries across the world.

The Safe Water Trust has more than 10 years of experience in developing Grifaid Water Filters and working with the disaster relief, humanitarian aid and overseas development sectors.

Grifaid Water Filters
Grifaid Water Filters help to improve and save lives around the world by providing quick, easy and long-term access to safe drinking water.

In times of humanitarian crisis and natural disasters, Grifaid Water Filters support aid agencies and governments in preventing outbreaks of disease and ensuring that people have a continuous supply of safe drinking water, particularly during and sometimes beyond the critical period before power supplies have been restored.

In the developing world, Grifaid Water Filters enable individuals, families and communities, who have no access to a safe water source, to lead healthier lives. This supports education, employment and agricultural activities.

Created by renowned engineer John Griffith, Grifaid Water Filters combine advanced membrane technology with portability, practicality and ease of use to rapidly provide people with safe drinking water.

Developed in conjunction with NGOs and aid agencies, and shaped by feedback from use in the field, the filters have been designed to help people affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and to support families and communities who don’t have a regular source of safe water.

Grifaid Water Filters have been helping to save and improve lives for more than 10 years in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Grifaid Water Filters help support the following UN sustainable development goals:

  • Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The Grifaid Charity
Founded by Rotarian John Griffith and his wife Gill, the Grifaid charity generates funds through charity donations which are used to help supply Grifaid Water Filters to communities in need all over the world.

The Grifaid charity supports small charities – such as Church organisations – in helping to provide safe drinking water for humanitarian aid and development across the globe. For more information, visit

Source: The Safe Water Trust