August update: Freezing South, Project News and Open Innovation
You probably have been complaining about high temperatures lately. Whereas in the Northern hemisphere people sweat and suffer from heat, in the South the opposite is the case: frost and hail in Peru, snow and low temperatures in large parts of Brazil, and torrential rains in China, Pakistan, India, and Guatemala. Meanwhile, in Bolivia, schools had to postpone the start of classes after winter holidays because of freezing temperatures - most buildings do not have heating or adequate insulation to keep them warm.
This situation has a lot to do with our project, which you supported in the past - and many of you keep supporting. Schools should be places where children can grow and learn, not only about mathematics and language, but also about healthy lifestyles. That is why the project is focusing on teaching and practicing water disinfection and hygiene. With these simple interventions a significant improvement can be generated in the lives of thousands of children, and these will last as long as they practise the healthy habits. Without the need for massive spending in infrastructure, such projects can reach large numbers of schools at very low costs per child.
It is our hope that we contribute to form a new generation who knows about the dangers of drinking untreated water and the benefits of washing hands. We also want to thank again all of you who have contributed to the project with ideas, with moral support or with donations. As the project will be finishing in September, we will use the donations we receive from now on for documenting this successful experience. Specialists at the SODIS Foundation are elaborating a document with the main results and some of the lessons learned during the project, and if funds allow, we also will make a short documentary. In this way, we can share our experiences with other organisations, other schools, and even teachers from other countries.
On a different issue, we wanted to inform you about some exciting news from the SODIS Foundation. Thanks to our presence on the Global Giving marketplace, we have been invited by the Rockefeller Foundation to launch an open innovation challenge for developing a SODIS indicator. Such a device would enable users to see when water has been in the sun for enough time and therefore is safe to drink. This is very important because the microorganisms causing diarrhea or cholera are so small you can not see them without microscopes – therefore, water before and after disinfection looks the same to the human eye. The challenge for the SODIS indicator was implemented on the open innovation platform of InnoCentive, a world leader in open innovation. We received more than 70 high quality proposals and are currently in the process of evaluating them with the support of experts. We look forward to field test the winning solution soon, which will facilitate future promotion of this simple method for treating drinking water and saving lives. Maybe one day you will take such an indicator with you when you travel to a place where the drinking water is not trustworthy, or when you go hiking in the mountains. We look forward to keep you informed about these developments and about our project. Please help us spreading the word about the project and how simple it is to save a life.
Best regards from the whole project team
Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 children in Bolivia
Project update June 2010
With great pleasure we inform you about the recent developments in the project „Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 children in Bolivia“. As we have reported previously, activities in the field are advancing well and the project already reached an impressive number of people. Just to mention a few numbers:
- Throughout the project, we trained 86,087 children on Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) and on adequate hand washing. 6,921 of these children were designated as leaders; they are responsible for making sure the methods are applied correctly and consistently at class rooms.
- Some 22,300 parents and 583 school councils were trained on SODIS and improved hygiene measures.
- 793 teachers were trained on how to teach SODIS and hand washing, and how to include these topics in the curriculums. The teachers also learned how to integrate healthy habits into the daily procedures at school – this is an important step to make these habits last for a long time.
- At 50 schools, children painted large pictures explaining the simple SODIS method on outdoor walls. They serve as a promotion platform but also remind teachers and children to drink only treated water.
These are just a few of the outputs achieved by the project. They illustrate that great progress has been made at large scale. Apart from the numbers, there were also qualitative results. For example, an inter-institutional committee was created, including the local Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the local water supply agencies, among others. In this committee, activities are coordinated in order to make sure the project will have an impact beyond the directly involved schools, and that the benefits will continue even after the project will be formally closed in September 2010.
Even though it still is early to judge the impact created by the project, we can already confirm that the project was carried out as planned and that massive output at scale was generated. This project is one of the first of its kind at this large scale and it will be important to document the impressive series of benefits created with limited funds available. We will continue to inform about this project and will also indentify other communication channels in order to spread the word further. We think that this is an important step to demonstrate that significant change can be achieved through behaviour change, through simple measures and through working at large scale. With the support of our supporters (you!), it was possible to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people. You can help this cause further: pass on this report, place a widget of the project on your Facebook site, or talk to a friend about the project. We are looking forward to hear back from you.
Furthermore, we would like to inform you about interesting recent developments within the SODIS Foundation. We have been invited by the Rockefeller Foundation to set up an open innovation challenge. This challenge, implemented by the leading open innovation platform InnoCentive (http://www.innocentive.com/landing/global-giveback.php), finished in April 2010 and yielded more than 70 high-quality ideas on how to develop a SODIS-indicator. The SODIS Foundation - with the support of experts - is currently in the process of evaluating these proposals and will identify a winner by the end of June. This idea then will be further developed and tested with the aim of producing low-cost SODIS-indicators. We expect such indicators to simplify the application and promotion of the SODIS method, which can benefit millions of people. We will inform you on our website about further developments on this issue (www.fundacionsodis.org).
Finally, we would like to point out to a special opportunity: all online (credit card or paypal) donations to the project made on Wednesday, June 16, will be complemented by ANOTHER 50% by the Global Giving Foundation. This is a great opportunity to make your donation go even further, saving more lives for less money. As an example: if you donate 50 dollars to the project, the effective donation actually will be 75 dollars, thanks to the matching funds generously provided by Global Giving. Simply visit our project on June 16 and follow the steps indicated – amounts up to 1,000 dollars will be matched: www.globalgiving.org/1905.
We would like to thank you for your continuing support – we are overwhelmed by the large number of people who show us their support day by day. Every donation makes a difference to us, to the project and to the children in Bolivia who benefit from safe drinking water. With additional support, we can go even further.
For the project team,
Project update and matching day: April 29, 2010
Dear supporters of the project “Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 children in Bolivia”:
From Haiti to Bolivia and around the world, water is in the headlines again, and we would like to point out to a few events and news related to our project:
The April issue of National Geographic (special edition on water) features an article on a project to promote Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) in the slums of Nairobi (Kenya). You can read the article (titled “High Marks for Clean Water”) online on the blog of National Geographic:
Since the beginning of the year, rains continue to fall in the Andes, with floods affecting thousands of families in the region. Due to increased temperatures, the glaciers of the region are releasing more water and causing many rivers reach record levels. Among others, the BBC is reporting on this phenomenon and documents the story of Alivio Aruquipa who went to the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in search of support to claim compensations for the damages caused by the melting glaciers. Read the story here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8629379.stm. With large cities like La Paz and Lima relying heavily on glacier melt for their water supply, this will be an issue coming back to the headlines for the years to come.
In Cochabamba (Bolivia), where the SODIS Foundation is headquartered, water has an especially tragic story to tell. Ten years ago, a civil movement was formed to protest against the tariff hikes of the recently privatized municipal water supply agency. The violent clashes between protesters and the police, also known as “water war”, led to a state of emergency, the death of at least five protesters and finally the cancellation of the contract with the private company. One recent article on this story and the following developments can be found here:
Water often is a matter of live and death. Contaminated water continues to kill a child every 20 seconds worldwide. The good news is that the rate is dropping – but it is dropping slow, putting at risk millions of people. Today more than 800 million people drink water from unimproved sources – that is, from rivers, dug wells or irrigation channels. At the SODIS Foundation, we are working hard to change this and bring safe drinking water to those who need it most. With your support, we can go reach out to additional people. Thank you for your continuing support.
Best wishes from the SODIS Foundation,
For the project team: Matthias Saladin