We want to quickly update you on the latest development regarding our project "Micro-credit for families in Cochabamba", which you have been supporting in the past.
In Bolivia, January is summer time and the schools are closed for summer vacations. However, this is also the time when rainfalls are most frequent, and the combination of high temperature and rainfalls in the past years have led to floods and landslides, damaging the already weak infrastructure and causing fatalities.
Improving infrastructure is also the main objective of our project. The SODIS Foundation teamed up with a local micro-finance institute and provides favourable conditions for families to obtain credits for improving their housing conditions. The funds can be used for specific purposes, but most families decide to use it for purchasing materials. With the technical advice and support of the SODIS Foundation, they then improve existing facilities or add new ones.
In our last report, we documented how Doña Soledad paid for the construction of a waterless toilet and how this improved her life. For many families, obtaining a bank credit is literally impossible – not only are the interest rates high (18-20% annual rates are common), but the banks ask for securities such as land titles or work contracts which poor families do not have. Therefore, our project met a lot of interest, because our micro-finance partner is more flexible on these terms. For example Delia Alarcón, who took out a loan in 2011 for improving her house. With the low interest rates and the technical advice provided by the project, she was able to fulfill her dream. By March 2012, she will have re-paid the full amount and be eligible for a new one – and so on.
We hope this report is useful to you. Please let us know if you have comments or suggestions – our team is always looking for ways to improve our impact and communications.
Best regards from the whole project team,
It has been a while since we last informed you about our activities regarding the development of an indicator for solar radiation. We are interested in such an indicator because solar radiation is a very effective means to disinfect drinking water (see www.sodis.ch for more information on the SODIS method), and one of the factors limiting the widespread use of this method is the fact that radiation dose is difficult for laypersons to estimate. With a simple SODIS indicator, this hurdle may be overcome and thus the task of bringing safe drinking water to millions of people in the world made easier.
In 2010, we were invited by GlobalGiving to set up an open innovation challenge for such an indicator. The challenge was presented on one of the leading open innovation platforms (www.InnoCentive.com) and participation has been overwhelming. Among more than 70 entries we identified a winner, which at that time was a team of students from the University of Washington. Motivated by this success, the team then developed a business plan and in 2011 won an international business plan competition. During this time, the students set up their own company (PotaVida.org), which will now focus on the technical development of the indicator.
The key point in advancing the idea of a low-cost SODIS indicator is to produce it in large quantities. However, at the current stage, we want to try these indicators in the field and keep improving them, so we need small quantities. We expect the final price to be below 5 USD per unit and thus even cheaper than we originally anticipated. But for the moment, we are making small productions of prototype series, which are costly. However, we are confident that within a few months we will have a product which meets the needs of users and which can be produced massively.
Currently, we are negotiating with several groups who are working on the idea of a SODIS indicator in order to produce a next generation prototype which can be field tested. In the next few weeks, we will inform you about the results of these negotiations and the next steps of our project.
We also want to inform you about an important fundraising opportunity coming up soon: Between February 1 and 29, all donations received through www.globalgiving.org to our project will be matched by 200%! That is, for each dollar donated, Global Giving will add two more, thus tripling the amount you donate. We think this is a great opportunity to achieve a great impact and support this important initiative further. Please share this information with friends and families who may be interested in making a donation.
As we announced earlier, we are now in the third phase of our project for schools in Bolivia. During this phase, the project will be implemented in 40 schools in Tiquipaya, a municipality close to the city of Cochabamba. Training of teachers started in October and continued until the middle of December. Currently, the schools are closed (for summer vacation!) in Bolivia, and classes will start again in early February with the next phase of the project.
Today, we want to tell you the story of the school named “Floresta Collpapampa”. It’s the first school in Tiquipaya where not only the teachers have been trained in methods to obtain safe drinking water, but also these methods are practiced on a daily basis. Floresta Callpapampa is a school in the Eastern part of the municipality where 250 children go to class of the primary level. The teachers were enthusiastic about the novel methodology which is being implemented by the SODIS Foundation, and the director of the school proudly accepted the challenge to be the first school of the project which can offer SAFE DRINKING WATER to its pupils and teachers. Thus, Christmas was an ideal opportunity to celebrate and to finish the year with many smiling faces.
From the SODIS Foundation, we also would like to announce more GOOD NEWS: User’s of mobile phones in the US can now donate to our project with a text message:
Text GIVE 1905 to 80088 to donate 10$ to our project. Messege and data rates may apply. Read full terms: www.mGive.org/t.
Wishing you all a happy Holiday Season and all the best for 2012,
With best regards from the whole project team,