World Water Day 2023: Metals for Humanity set to expand Pure Silver Initiative in Mexico

To mark the 30th World Water Day, Metals for Humanity is excited to announce the expansion of our pioneering Pure Silver Initiative to bring clean water to underserved communities across Mexico.

This year’s World Water Day is about accelerating change to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. Right now we are seriously off track to meet this goal – the only way to meet it is to think boldly outside the box.

By 2025, 50% of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas

Metals for Humanity (M4H) founder Ingrid Putkonen first had the idea to harness silver to disinfect water back in 2015. She was advising the world’s top primary silver producer, Fresnillo plc, on ways to be a more responsible miner, when it struck her that silver – the very material Fresnillo mines – can help solve one of Mexico’s biggest problems: access to clean drinking water.

Silver was first used to kill germs in water by the Ancient Greeks, today astronauts even use it in space! Ingrid persuaded Fresnillo to fund her bold idea and, in 2016, M4H’s Pure Silver Initiative was born.

Following a triumphant test run in communities across Durango, Chihuahua and Hidalgo, and a handwashing programme in Mexico City schools during COVID, we are now expanding our water-cleaning programme across more schools in Mexico.

See how silver is used to disinfect water in a rural Mexican community

At least a quarter of Mexicans struggle every day to source clean water. In Hidalgo, one of Pure Silver Initiative’s pilot communities, nearly 300,000 families live without reliable access to clean drinking water. The Pure Silver Initiative showed people in rural Hidalgo how to make drinking water safe by simply adding colloidal silver drops and taught them how to test the cleanliness of the water.

Silver is a powerful disinfectant to kill germs. It penetrates the cell walls of germs, starves the cells of energy by attaching to metabolic enzymes and finally breaks the cell’s DNA, preventing germs from replicating.

Pure Silver Initiative’s success by numbers

Over 23,500 have benefitted from our clean water programmes

95% of teachers interviewed claimed that the introduction of the new water systems has significantly reduced the consumption of soft drinks in schools, helping tackle Mexico’s childhood obesity crisis

53% of the population perceived that their health and that of their family improved with the use of silver-based filters

Handwashing programme in Mexico City target schools during COVID increased handwashing facilities by 90%

This year we are expanding our collaborations, building alliances with government authorities and other leading companies to materially amplify our impact in schools across Mexico.

“I did not know that silver could help us to disinfect water. Today, I take this lesson with me – a lesson for the rest of my life” – School director, Fontezuelas, Hidalgo

Ingrid says, “Water is the fountain of life. It is only through grand goals like this, in collaboration with committed partners, that we can make a real difference, leaving no one behind.”

Collaboration is essential because governments alone cannot fix the water crisis. Dutch environmentalist Alexander Verbeek, the founder of the Institute for Planetary Security, says, “All sectors of society must be involved. Contributions from cities, regions, NGOs, and businesses will be vital in driving the success of the Water Action Agenda.”

The Water Action Agenda aims to turn the political momentum created by the UN 2023 Water Conference into action: scaling up what works and bringing successful solutions to global scale.

The UN’s 2030 deadline to bring clean water for all is ambitious, but we must persist. As we say in the Spanish-speaking world: “A glass of water cannot be denied to anyone.”

Metals for Humanity: Making metals work for us all.

Further reading:

Learn more about Pure Silver Initiative’s projects here.

Discover Metals for Humanity founder Ingrid Putkonen’s journey to setting up the Pure Silver Initiative here.

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