SODIS Foundation

To develop and promote solutions for improving drinking water quality and health. For achieving this, we cooperate with the private, public and development sector in order to benefit people in Latin America.
Oct 13, 2014

The power of resourceful people

Pupils with bottles of safe drinking water
Pupils with bottles of safe drinking water

In this update, we want to tell you a story about a resourceful teacher. His name is Antonio Choque and he work for the school “Carhuani” in the municipality of Independencia in Bolivia. Like many other teachers in this area, he teaches kids of several grades at the same time. His 14 pupils are between 6 and 12 years of age.

Antonio is really committed to promote hygiene practices, safe water and sanitation to each of his students. Last year, he participated in several of the workshops organized by the SODIS Foundation for this project in order to train and motivate teachers to implement simple practices for improving water and hygiene conditions at schools. One of the simple measures is the establishment of “healthy corners”, which are tables where pupils store safe drinking water and clean cups. As the project did not provide such tables for all class rooms, Antonio decided to make one with locally available resources: plastic bottles and a pressboard (see picture). This table made of recycled materials at no cost now serves as the “health corner” in Antonio’s class room, and the kids are using it regularly. This simple story tells us how importance it is to train people and to enable their creativity for finding locally adapted solutions. After all, our project is not about “feeding the hungry”, but about “teaching them how to fish”.

Given the need and with his own creativity, he created a platform to organize his corner of safe drinking water. In the educational unit, they only have distributed five “tarimas” and have six classrooms. Antonio managed to create a small table for his barrel and glasses with only pressboard and plastic bottles.

Currently, we are also training teachers and students on how to produce soap for hand washing. Again, we are seeing how important it is to foster creativity and make use of existing materials and resources – we will tell you about this in our next report.

We hope this report was useful for you. If you liked it, please share it with other people who may be interested in supporting a project like this. Thank you in advance!

Best regards from the whole project team,

Matthias Saladin

A table for storing drinking water - at no cost
A table for storing drinking water - at no cost
Oct 13, 2014

The importance of washing hands

Students of a local school producing soap
Students of a local school producing soap

During our last visit to the schools in Tiquipaya, we focused our attention on the issue of handwashing. In fact, the project this year established "proper hand washing by all students at key moments" as a goal for all our target schools. "Key moments" are after visiting the bathroom and before eating – several research studies have shown that washing hands at these key moments can reduce diarrhea rates by up to 50%.

One of the challenges we encountered previously was the lack of soap at schools. Therefore, the SODIS Foundation decided to train teachers and some of the older students in soap making, which turned out to be feasible but not as easy as expected. In fact, making soap is not difficult at all, but making a soap of high quality is - especially in an artisanal setting and without professional emplloyees. Furthermore, it also involves handling strong acids, which is why we decided to implement this activity only with the older students.

After some difficulties and a lot of learning, the students managed to produce their own soap, which now is being used at several schools. The SODIS Foundation is now looking into the option of setting up a student-run micro-enterprise which would be dedicated to produce soap for all 40 schools of the municipality. And we are preparing some special promotion and awareness-raising activities for October 15, which is global hand washing day.

Given all these developments, we decided to extend the project further in order to keep supporting the schools in Tiquipaya in improving their water, sanitation and hygiene conditions. We will keep informing you about lessons learned and challenges ahead.

We hope this report has been useful to you. Please let us know if you have specific question are feedback, and share this report with people who may be interested in supporting out project. Improving water and hygiene conditions at schools is a very direct and cost-effective way of improving conditions and combating disease. We thank you in advance for your support.

With warm greetings from the whole project team,

Matthias Saladin

Training session on proper hand washing
Training session on proper hand washing
May 14, 2014

Successes and achievements

School kids posing in their "healthy corner"
School kids posing in their "healthy corner"

Dear supporter,

In this report, we want to briefly inform you about the latest advances and achievements of the project "Safe Drinking Water for 40 Schools in Bolivia":

Donation of 50 water filters to day care centers

In the beginning of 2014, we supported a local organization which is running more than 40 day care centers with a donation of 50 water filters, which was made possible thanks to a micro-project we launched on Global Giving during December 2013. The goal was to extend our work from the schools to other members of the communities, in this case the most vulnerable group in terms of infectious diseases: children between 6 months and 5 years. By working with a trusted partner, we were able to reach dozens of at-risk children with an efficient intervention which is proven to lower diarrhea rates, one of the leading causes of death of young children in Bolivia.

Experts of the SODIS Foundation trained the employees of our partner organization so that they can use the filters adequately. Thanks to this micro-project children and families are now drinking safe water, thus improving health and well-being. In the coming months, we will keep working with these day care centers so that they use the filters instead of consuming unsafe drinking water.

Safe Water Schools Manual: 

Over the past months, we adapted a manual which has been developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), with the title “for “Safe Water Schools”. The adaptation of the manual to the Bolivian context was conducted by the technical team of the SODIS Foundation and underwent a series of revisions and corrections based on the experiences with local teachers. In addition, we managed to obtain the support of the Ministry of Education at District level in Tiquipaya, who validated the material and now support its use in local schools. The manual provides guidance on how to improve water, sanitation and hygiene aspects at schools in low-income settings.

Water disinfection and hand washing:

From previous projects, we know that when promoting new habits, it is very important to remind people to practice these habits regularly. In the current project, we are using specially designed materials for this purpose:

  • Two Calendars for inform and remind people about different ways of disinfecting drinking water.
  • One poster to promote hand washing, which was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MMAyA).

Project extension

As you can see, the project is making good progress and we are happy to have found positive response by our local partners - most importantly the teachers and pupils, but also by the school administrators, the local representatives of the Ministry of Education, of the Municipality, and the population in general. We therefore decided to extend this project for one more year in order to keep improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions at local schools.

Bonus Day ahead: increase your impact!

We also wanted to inform you that this July 16, the 2nd Bonus Day of 2014 will take place. Any donation of up to $1000 will be matched by an additional 30%. Shortly before this date, we will provide further details about this special opportunity to make your donations go further.

Conclusion

The project is making good progress, and the response by local people and stakeholders is very positive. We decided to extend this project in order to keep improving positive health impact, further reducing diarrhea rates and school absenteeism.

If you found this report useful, please share it with other people who may be interested in this project. For questions and suggestions, please write to us directly: info@fundacionsodis.org.

Best regards from the whole project team,

Matthias Saladin

Poster promoting hand washing at critical times
Poster promoting hand washing at critical times
Calendar promoting 4 water disinfection methods
Calendar promoting 4 water disinfection methods
Participants of a workshop to promote hand washing
Participants of a workshop to promote hand washing

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