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China Daily Website

Simple coffee bean could be vital solution to improving health in Laos' countryside

Updated: 2014-12-17 14:29

In a branch of one of the country's most well-known cafe chains, with modern vehicles whizzing by just yards from the door, as beans are ground and enticing blend percolate away, it would be easy to forget that nearby life continue as usual in the underprivileged rural villages in Laos' ruggedly remote and mountainous interior.

Customers in this particular shop sip their caffeinated brews in air-conditioned comfort, in much the same way as they would in any such establishment across the globe.

Most, however, remain blissfully unaware that the contents of their cups are, in this particular instance, helping to reduce the scourge of water-borne disease in the very same villages.

Untreated water is a major cause of attacks of diarrhea, gastrointestinal complaints and other potentially life-threatening illnesses, which can compound problems surrounding a lack of nourishment, especially among children.

This feeds into stunted growth that remains drastically high among under-five's in Laos, at 44 percent, a key focus of the first United Nations Millennium Development Goal for the nation, according to the latest statistics by United Nations Development Program.

The majority of these cases are concentrated in the nation's rural parts renowned for their rich tapestry, but less so for possessing the vital, affordable and reliable filtration technology that is the only tool to combat the scourge.

The connection to coffee lies in the ground and the remnants of the coffee left over once the tastiness has been extracted from the beans. The leftovers are mixed with clay and water, and molded into shape and fired in a kiln.

After being cooled, they are mixed with some additional material, which are available from the local markets. The composite, largely organic, will soon be ready to become part of an affordable and effective filter that can create some 40 liters of fresh water per day, enough to supply a few household's daily requirements.

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