Have you heard of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC)? This is a technology to use micro-organism to clean-up dirty water and, at the same time, generate electricity.
Lack of sanitation related infrastructure is a critical issue. I always feel shocking to see waterways in Asian cities ended up being a “sewage”. My proposal is to leverage on what these cities have; dirty / smelly waterways, plus targeted micro-organism suited for MFC is also everywhere in the world. Why not apply this technology to help solve the issue?
Unfortunately, this proposal cannot be a "silver bullet" that could solve water issues in developing cities. Building proper infrastructures does require time, just like all wealthy cities have experienced. However, now, there are many ways to mitigate the situation and complement the shortage of infrastructure. And I believe MFC is one of the candidates.
The biggest advantage is to use dirty waterways and ubiquitous micro-organism to be the agent for cleaning and generating electricity. The application of electricity (by-product) is open. It could fuel the water quality censor to monitor river’s health, be stored for community events to educate the root of hygiene problems.
I see the extensiveness of this technology, but first needs to be well-tested onsite.
Here adding some related articles. Bold text is the quote.
Power a mobile phone with human urine using MFC technology.
MFC holds a great potential as simple to use, rapid and cost effective sensing devices for water monitoring.
Widespread use of MFCs can take our waste products and transform them into energy.