Muda Mrefu

Water, fluoride, and charred goat bones.

Yesterday Samantha and received a visit from Professor Eli Dahi. He manufactures and sells filters that can take the fluoride, bacteria, and anything else hostile that might be in our water. Sam and I were excited, as we had been drinking cases of bottled water. It is not really the cost that worried us, but rather the fact that once empty the plastic bottles are dumped in a big hole in our back yard and then burned.

The area that we live in, the region of Arusha, is one of the many areas of Tanzania that experiences very high concentrations of fluoride in the water. The reasons are geological, and the results are quite dire for many Tanzanians. Fluoride, when ingested over years (especially in childhood), can effect one’s teeth and bones in a terribly crippling way. Many of the Tanzanians that one sees have teeth that are stained brown from their exposure to fluoride.

Prof. Dahi’s filters seemed like a voodoo ritual at first , but I found a reference to the exact same process in an African science journal. It is all based on raw goat bones that are charred and broken into small pieces. The kind professor supplies you with two plastic buckets that stack on top of one another. The top bucket has a small tube coming out of the bottom, and the bottom bucket has a similar tube that enters it at the top. When water leaves the top bucket, it flows out the tube and into a metal cylinder (the filter) that is filled with the charred goat bones. Once the water has percolated through the filter, it then flows into the lower bucket. A twist of the small tap on the bottom bucket provides you with fluoride free, clean drinking and cooking water. All for $90 US.

One of the few drawbacks is that the label on the whole thing shows the effects of fluoride on a person’s teeth, and the photo is very graphic. Every glass of water we pour we get a glimpse of the photo. A large part of Professor Eli’s work involved trying to educate the Tanzanian public about the dangers of fluoride, and graphic reminders serve their purpose.



Which brings me to the cost of living in Arusha. Sometimes things seem so affordable (usually when connected to the low cost of labor), but other times it seems so expensive (anything imported). That is for another post, perhaps.


January 24, 2007 - Posted by | Arusha


  1. 90 dollàri per due secchi mi sembra un vero affare, chiedi allo stregone se spedisce in italia .))

    Comment by haldo | January 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. I was poking around, curious about flouride, and found this:

    Comment by Matt Marello | February 11, 2007 | Reply

  3. And this wacky site as well:

    Comment by Matt Marello | February 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. Hello,

    I am currently looking into solutions to filter fluoride in a rural community of Simanjiro.
    Could you maybe help me find out contacts/name of organizations in Arusha that make good fluoride filters installations?

    Thank you

    Comment by Albane | February 7, 2014 | Reply

  5. Please advice, how can I get one of these filiters?

    Comment by Suziete | May 27, 2015 | Reply

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