This tree is probably in your backyard and everywhere around you. What you didn’t know is that its seeds purify water. The developing world needs a low-cost water purification technique to reduce the incidence of waterborne disease. Moringa could very well be the answer. The procedure, which uses seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, can produce a 90 per cent to 99.99 percent reduction in bacteria in untreated water.
A report in Science Daily states that a billion people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America are estimated to rely on untreated surface water for their daily requirement. Of these, approximately two million are thought to die from diseases caught from contaminated water every year. Majority of these deaths have been among children under five years of age. Michael Lea, a Current Protocols author, and a researcher at Clearinghouse, a Canadian organisation dedicated to investigating and implementing low-cost water purification technologies, believes the Moringa oleifera tree could go a long way in providing a reasonable solution.
“Moringa oleifera is a vegetable tree which is grown in Africa, Central and South America, the Indian subcontinent, and South East Asia. It could be considered to be one of the world’s most useful trees,” said Lea. “Not only is it drought resistant, it also yields cooking and lighting oil, soil fertiliser, as well as highly nutritious food in the form of its pods, leaves, seeds and flowers. Perhaps most importantly, its seeds can be used to purify drinking water at virtually no cost.”
Powder made out of Moringa tree seeds can be used as a water-soluble extract in suspension-an effective natural clarification agent for highly turbid and untreated pathogenic surface water. As well as improving potability, this technique reduces water cloudiness, making the water more acceptable for human consumption.
Despite its life-saving potential, the technique is still not widely known, surprisingly, even in areas where the Moringa is routinely cultivated. Lea’s hope that the publication of this technique in a freely available format will make it easier to disseminate the procedure to the communities that need it.