Using a purifying agent produced by a small Japanese company, an international agency is making water potable for internally displaced people in Mogadishu, the capital of war-ravaged Somalia — often described as a "failed state."

Made by Osaka-based Nippon Poly-Glu Co., the agent has helped lower the incidence of illnesses and diarrhea among children of Somalis who fled their hometowns to escape famine and civil war, local people say.

At a camp teeming with ramshackle tents in Mogadishu, where women and children fill plastic bottles at a water purifying tank, an aid worker shows a small bag. The white powder it contains, the worker says, is used with chlorine to clean the water.