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Case study: Oxfam report of the LIFESAVER cube in South Sudan

Wesley Clarke-Sullivan - Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Case study – The provision of clean drinking water for displaced communities in South Sudan

Project partners: LIFESAVER – manufacturers of portable ultra filtration technology and Oxfam GB, NGO

Location: South Sudan, Africa

Date: The project commenced January 2015, with later deployments January/February 2016, followed by March 2016.

Objective:  LIFESAVER cubes were distributed within South Sudan at three different locations. This was in response to displaced people and their need for a portable source of clean drinking water.

Volume of product distributed: Over 2,300 LIFESAVER cube units  


January 2015

Pultruk, Nyirol County - 180 LIFESAVER cubes were distributed by plane and then pick-up truck for displaced people living in an open area, using a swamp as their water source
January / February 2016

Nyal Islands, Reykey IDP Camp, Panyijar County – 1215 LIFESAVER cubes were distributed by plane and then canoe to displaced people based on small islands in a wetland environment, and to people in a small, informal IDP camp. The communities used a swamp as their water source.

March 2016

 Bangolo, Gariya, Mundri West County – 955 LIFESAVER cubes were distributed by truck to displaced people living in the bush.  The community used a river, ponds and boreholes as their water source.
Project Summary:

“There has been a lot of positive feedback about the cube. It is simple to use and maintain in comparison to other water filters, and it should last longer than the most commonly distributed alternative in South Sudan – PuR water treatment sachets. PuR would need to be distributed in larger quantities to achieve the LIFESAVER cube lifespan. Therefore, the cube represents a more sustainable solution that reduces the dependency of a targeted population on additional support”.  - Angus Mcbride, Emergency Sanitation Researcher, Oxfam GB

The Conclusion:

Many positive benefits of the LIFESAVER cube were incorporated into the feedback provided by Oxfam GB. The Oxfam team is involved in the South Sudan WASH Cluster’s Technical Working Group on household water treatment and reported the following benefits of the LIFESAVER cube.

-       Virus removal: Unlike some other methods of water treatment, Lifesaver’s ultra filtration technology removes viruses such as Hepatitis, Norovirus and Polio, as well as bacteria

-       Reduced risk of recontamination: Because the water is stored dirty and is not cleaned until it is about to be used there is significantly less opportunity for recontamination of the water

-       No backwashing: To clean the filter the cube is half filled with clean water then shaken for one minute. This dislodges sediment on the filter and this is then poured out. This is much easier than backwashing, a common process for other filters.

-       Longevity: The cube should last a family for more than a year, assuming 12 litres of water per day is treated. The longevity of the cube should be one of its greatest strengths in comparison to other commonly used household water treatment products

-       Logistics: A pallet of cubes is easy to move to a distribution site. The product arrives packed efficiently on a pallet but this can easily be broken down into individual units or tied together into smaller bundles. They are easy to pack and stack and as a self-contained unit there are no parts to forget or lose

-       Improved taste:  Users have reported an improved taste when using LIFESAVER to filter water, and preferred the taste compared to chlorinated water

-       Simple to use: 95% of recipients understood how to use the cube, 92% of recipients reported using it (Post distribution monitoring survey in Nyal, Panyiyar County)

-       Safe to use:  It is almost impossible to use the cube in a way that results in the water produced not being safe to drink. For example, if the filter is not cleaned properly it will only reduce the flow rate, not the treatment efficacy. And the filtration is FAILSAFE, meaning the cube will only ever pass filtered water and will stop working once the unit needs replacing

-       Sustainable solution:  LIFESAVER products last longer than commonly distributed water treatment sachets. To achieve the same volume of filtration as the cube, more deployments or larger deployments of water treatment sachets would be required

For further information on the LIFESAVER cube, visit:

LIFESAVER cubes can be purchased directly from Icon Lifesaver or via the Oxfam Humanitarian Procurement Centre:    


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