Drop by drop

Companion talks to Dominic Lyando, global production manager at social business start-up SPOUTS of Water, clean water pioneers

Q: What is SPOUTS all about? 

A: SPOUTS of Water is a Ugandan water filter company. They build water filters made of a special mixture of clay, sawdust and ceramic. This special mixture is burned at 900 degrees Celsius and can afterwards be easily used. The filter system includes a clay pot into which the water is filled. Microscopic pores allow only clean water to pass through and retain impurities, bacteria and germs. This process can filter out 99.99% of all bacteria, eliminating the need to boil the water. Simply pour contaminated water into the filter, wait a bit and tap the filtered water below. The filters are all the same size but they come in two different versions. The one for household use can hold up to 20 litres, and there is one that holds up to 75 litres to be used in public spaces like schools or hospitals. They have provided access to clean drinking water to over 200,000 people in Uganda and since 2023 also in Rwanda. 


Q: Who manufactures the filters and where does the money come from to make them? 

A: The filters are manufactured in the SPOUTS factory around 25km outside of the Ugandan capital Kampala. The company used investment rounds in the past to finance growth. In 2019 Viva con Agua (vivaconagua.org) together with the Welthungerhilfe (welthungerhilfe.org) invested in SPOUTS and secured 30% of the shares on the company. These shares were the first impact investment for Viva con Agua and the goal behind this investment is to provide even more people with clean drinking water. SPOUTS used the money to expand the capacity of their factory. 


Q: Where are the Spouts filters used? In the home? In schools? At work?  

A: All these places. SPOUTS filters are an effective way to get clean drinking water without having to boil water or use chlorines. Therefore the filters are used in households and are even more often used in places likes schools and hospitals. Viva con Agua uses SPOUTS filters in its water projects in Uganda providing schools with filters to give pupils easy access to clean water. 

Q: Are the SPOUTS water filers donated or bought? 

A: Both. Spouts is a business and is selling the filters to private households and communities (for the use in schools and hospitals). But the filters are also often bought by NGOs and then used as part of the projects to solve short term solutions to provide clean drinking water. The price for a filter is affordable in Uganda. If counterbalanced to the costs of boiling water over open fire it is on the long term cheaper to get a filter. 


Q: How long does a bucket style SPOUTS water filter work for? 

A: Surveys show that a filter lasts about three years and if it is very well maintained even up to five years. The only problems occur when sometimes filters are not cleaned regularly and then clog. 


Q: Are filters climate-friendly? 

A: Yes! SPOUTS water filters are registered with the Gold Standard for Carbon Credits. The use of the filters prevents people from cooking water over open fires. This means less CO² is produced and less trees are being felled. Therefore SPOUTS filters are helping the environment and reducing carbon emissions. For Viva con Agua the main reason for investing is more access to clean water for more people. 


Q: What does the future hold? 

A: SPOUTS is growing. Right now a new production site is being build next to the existing one. With advanced technology, SPOUTS will be able to produce up to 80,000 filters a month. SPOUTS is already delivering filters from Uganda to Rwanda. About 40,000 filters went there in 2023. They plan to expand distribution in all eastern Africa. Future plans are bright and ambitious. 

SPOUTS is social business as a means of self-help. The story of SPOUTS in Uganda is a complete success story. A social business dedicated to giving as many people as possible access to clean drinking water and having economic success while doing so. SPOUTS was the first business on African ground that Viva con Agua invested in and we’re really happy with the outcome.

Johannes Tomcz, Head of Marketing & Fundraising, Viva con Agua

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