Wolfhound Battalion Helps ‘Waves for Water’ Expand to Afghanistan

Since 2009, Waves for Water, (W4W) has been applying pragmatic solutions to the belief that everyone should have access to clean water. Founder and pro-surfer Jon Rose and partner Christian Troy teamed up with Hurley International to start the Clean Water Couriers DIY program, where surfers and travelers to third world countries can deliver portable water purification kits to impoverished areas.

Professional surfers Greg Long, Chilean native Ramon Navarro, and Kohl Christensen have all couriered water filters, giving more than 100,000 people access to clean water.

Waves for Water uses a water filter design by Sawyer. It’s based on the same technology used in kidney dialysis. Water flows through micro-pores that are so small, bacteria, protoza or cysts that cause e-coli, cholera, and typhoid can’t get through. This water filtering technology is cost effective, dependable, self-sustainable and operable simply by gravity. For $25 these filters have the power to eliminate preventable disease and can provide up to 14 people with potable water a day, for a year and if maintained properly, these filters can last for several years. W4W has delivered this technology to Indonesia, Pakistan, Chili, Brazil, Japan and now Afghanistan!

U.S. Army Captain Michael Brabner and his Wolfhound battalion are stationed in Kunar, a high traffic area in northern Afghanistan with significant geographical restriction, and the highest concentration of both U.S. and Afghan forces. While dealing with pressing issues of illegal arms transporting, insurgent movements and other types of contraband in the region, these troops have taken it upon themselves to also attend to the needs of villagers along the Kunar river who have no access to clean water. The Wolfhounds contacted W4W to find out if their filtration systems could be implemented in a region where the trust of foreigners was non-existence and cultural divides run high.

Being practical in their approach, W4W used a very traditional and basic method of training called, “train the trainer” approach. Instead of pushing a solution onto a community and risking staying power, their approach was to first teach the military how to use these filtration systems who in turn pass the training on to villagers and community leaders who already have established relationships and trust within the community. This method also prevents foreigners (us) from retaining any power once the program has been implemented- allowing the filtration system to flourish in the impoverished area of Kunar.

Captain Branbar and the Wolfhounds have added another dynamic to the W4W initiative, not only can surfers or those traveling abroad be part of their mission, but now the armed forces who are stationed world wide and already have presence in these desolate areas can be a part of the long- term solution. Their presence and compassion in the war torn area of Kunar, has the power to change the perception of the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan.

Having clean water is something many of us in the U.S. take for granted. We complain about the mere taste of tap water and splurge on bottled water or filtration systems while preventable illness like cholera, typhoid, and kidney stones become part of every day life for many people… just something to think about the next time you’re spending $5 on bottled water.

Written by: Jessica Hernandez

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