Clean water – open knowledge resources


swiss mountains through a glass of water by Gaetan LeeA fellow Appropedian asked if I’d written any articles on water treatment, as he wants to learn about it. Yes and no – most articles I’ve worked on have been collaborative efforts that remain open to improvement. That can work well,  as described in a recent post.

Putting that aside, where are the open resources that a learner should know about in water treatment?

  • Appropedia’s Water portal is a good place to start – it gives a map of Appropedia’s water content and some highlights, as well as links to other key open resources.
  • Akvo’s Akvopedia (similar name, different site – but they’re good friends of Appropedia). This has great, structured information about specific tech, with a development and appropriate technology focus.
  • Wikipedia’s Water Portal and Water_treatment pages, and the many others in the Water treatment category. There’s also the water section of the appropriate technology article. It’s topical info only, without the how-tos and designs you can find on Appropedia and Akvopedia, but the breadth and organization make this a great resource.
  • is a United Nations project, which is less open in a number of ways. Much of the content is posted as PDFs attached to pages (are they covered by the open license too?); you need to jump through some hurdles to join and contribute; and although it’s a polished looking site, it’s not clear at first glance that it also welcomes non-UN contributors. It’s good that the UN is taking steps towards openness – the best thing they could do, though, is make a policy of open licensing all their publications, past present and future.

OpenCourseWare resources are course materials such as podcasts and written materials, often from top universities, that are freely accessible online. The OpenCourseWare Finder yields results such as these:

Then there are great resources which are copyrighted, which we hope will soon be open:

  • CAWST – Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology – Akvo used some of their content in Akvopedia, which is how I found this great knowledge resource, but as there is no copyright or license statement on the site, it’s technically copyright. (I assume Akvo got permission for the pages they used.)
  • – another great resource on a more specific area of technology and design for water treatment. From our conversations, we know they support knowledge sharing – we just hope they go the extra step and choose an open license.

Photo credit: Gaetan Lee, CC-BY. Chosen because: The glass is half full.

4 thoughts on “Clean water – open knowledge resources

  1. I watched the web for a couple of weeks to get the right information i was looking for and there are too much organization which didn’t know each other to cooperate together. It be would be useful to have one platform like here to connect them all together…

  2. Hi bodda79. That’s so true about organizations not knowing each other, and it’s one of the things that we are working on. WiserEarth is one great way of connecting with organizations and people.

    In terms of information, if you really want to share the information you have, I’d strongly recommend you use the open license known as CC-BY-SA. Then someone could take your site’s information, e.g. on Snail Pumps (or Sling Pumps), and use it on Appropedia, together with an attribution notice (a link back to your site). This is great because it builds a unified knowledge resource, and also gives credit and attention to you for the contribution. What do you think?

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