A Singapore-based company's award-winning water filtering device - which has been providing clean drinking water to disaster-struck and rural communities worldwide - was inspired by an ordinary bicycle pump.
In 2015, when Wateroam's chief technology officer Vincent Loka saw a villager in Kelantan, Malaysia, using a bicycle pump to fill up his bike's tyres, it got him thinking about how filtered water can flow out through a similar mechanism.
Over the next two years, the company worked on developing ROAMfilter Plus - a lightweight, portable system that looks and works like a bicycle pump.
Once a tube connected to the device is dipped into a silt-ridden river or traditional well, the user has to push down the piston, and out flows clean water.
To date, the ROAMfilter Plus and its related products have been used in 38 countries, bringing clean water to around 207,000 people.
Its efforts earned it the water champion accolade on Monday (Jan 17), at a global sustainability award organised by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It is the second Singaporean company to win the award, after water solutions provider Ecosoftt in 2019.
The Zayed Sustainability Prize recognises companies and high schools across the world that have delivered innovative and impactful solutions to needy communities in the areas of health, food, energy, and water.
Each winner across the categories - including Wateroam - received a prize of US$600,000 (S$800,000) each.
The annual prize was formed in 2008 to honour and continue the UAE founding father's legacy of humanitarianism and sustainable development.
By 2015, one-year-old Wateroam already had 10 different prototypes and filtration products, including a novel one that resembles a plastic bag.
But the team was not satisfied with its existing products, as it wanted to create a longer-lasting device which could meet a whole community's needs. One bag-like filter could only serve up to seven people.
The ROAMfilter Plus - which weighs less than 3kg - can serve around 100 people, with 15 to 20 litres of potable water for each person daily. The device can provide 250 litres of water per hour.
"During a humanitarian crisis situation, it's very important that a larger amount of water can be provided to a larger community," said Mr David Pong, 32, chief executive and co-founder of Wateroam.
"We've been able to keep the cost (o...