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.
Sep 9, 2013

Finally - Safe Water at School

Teacher Roger Teran with one of the water filters
Teacher Roger Teran with one of the water filters

Dear supporters,

As we reported in our previous messages from the field, the project to provide 1200 kids in Anzaldo (Bolivia) with safe drinking water is in full swing. After the initial information and discussion sessions with the local communities, we started with the training workshops - first for teachers and later for the school kids. At each school, there is now a group of kids who are in charge of making sure there is safe drinking water at all class rooms and all kids have a clean cup for drinking water during the breaks.

Complementary to improving the quality of drinking water, we also are working hard to improve hygiene conditions at schools. Specifically, we install simple hand washing stations and make sure these are used at critical moments: after using the toilet and before eating. Based on scientific evidence, the combination of improving water quality and hand washing is one of the most effective interventions in order to reduce diarrhea, cholera and other diseases.

The project is advancing well, and the reactions of the local people are overwhelmingly positive. For example, during a recent visit to a project school we talked to Roger Teran, one of the teachers of a project school in Anzaldo. He said that "it was time for some organization to come up with better solutions, because water is very important for our children. The water filter is so easy to use and a big advantage for the children.”

The water filter he mentioned (see picture) is just one of the solutions we provide in order to make schools healthier places for learning. They consist of a ceramic element (called "candle"), two plastic buckets and a tap, and they effectively remove bacteria and parasites which are commonly found in water sources at Anzaldo. Thanks to this simple technology, water now is safe for drinking, and children highly appreciate it.

Thanks to your support, we were able to make a difference. Please continue to support this project.

Best regards from the whole project team,

Matthias Saladin

Sep 9, 2013

the importance of locally made products

Girl using the hand washing station at a school
Girl using the hand washing station at a school

Dear supporters,

As we have been reporting, the project to provide 40 schools in Tiquipaya (Bolivia) with safe drinking water and improved hygiene conditions is advancing well. Apart from the dozens of trainings and support workshops to teachers and school kids, we also are receiving support from local autorities - most importantly, the Municipal Government and the Ministry of Education at district level. The support of the these institutions makes sure that the project will be continued, even after formal activities in the field will finish by the end of 2013.

One lesson learnt during the first phase of the project was to consider the importance of locally available materials. For example, water can be made safe for drinking by using common plastic bottles. This method, called SODIS (for Solar Water Disinfection) is very effective and we reported on this in previous reports. After several months of intensive use, these bottles are too scratched to be fully effective - but they still can be put to good use: as a water container in our hand washing stations (see picture).

Another example of locally available products is soap. Soap, even though available in most communities in Bolivia, is hardly ever present at schools because this type of small cash expenses is not considered in the municipal budget and schools do not have funds available for this. Therefore, our idea was to train a group of teachers and kids on how to produce soap with locally available materials. The idea was well received, and two schools arleady started making their own soap. The excess production is sold to surrounding families and the income generated by these sales can be used to keep buying the ingredients needed for soap production. In this way, soap will be available at all times in the future, independently from external support. This is the level we want to achieve with all our interventions, and we hope to continue progressing in this direction. For at some point in the future, all schools in Bolivia (and elsewhere) will have the basic services available which are needed for learning and growing in a healthy environment.

If you want to keep supporting this project, please consider making a donation. And please let us know what you think about this project and our way of reporting on it.

Thank you and best regards from the project team,

Matthias Saladin

Handwashing stations are easy to construct and use
Handwashing stations are easy to construct and use
Aug 6, 2013

The power of coloured dots

Dear supporters,

We wanted to let you know about the exciting latest developments at our project. As you may know, we want to develop a device which tells users of the SODIS method (Solar Water Disinfection) when a bottle has been exposed to sufficient amounts of sunshine and the water is safe for drinking. We have been working with several companies and research groups around the world, and so far we have focused on electronic devices. However, we are now also using a second approach, which is based on colour-changing materials. These can be delivered in the form of stickers to the users, taking up very little space and for a fraction of the cost of an electronic device.

In May and June, we have been in contact with a group of scientist at Queens University in Belfast (Northern Ireland), and they have advanced significantly in the develpment of a prototype. Basically, they exposed different colour-changing materials to strong sunlight and measured how quickly colour changes. The results look like a bunch of coloured dots, but based on these results they can develop an advanced prototype, which we then will test in the field. Ideally, we want to have a material which is re-usable for many times, but this is a major technological challenge (the materials need to "recover" overnithg). Thus, for the moment we will work with disposable materials, but also keep derveloping the re-usable ones - they will be more cost-effective, save limited resources and produce less waste.

Please let us know if this report has been interesting and useful for you. If so, please share this message with someone who might be interested in this project and in supporting our cause of improving drinking water quality of marginalized people in Latin America. Obviously, we are still several months away from a finished product which may benefit millions of people. In the meantime, if you want to support a project with immediate impact on improving drinking water quality, have a look at our micro-project for 18 day care centers in Cochabamba (see link below).

Best regards from the whole project team,

Matthias Saladin

PS: Just to avoid misinterpretations, we would like to clarify the the work of Queens University is directly funded by institutional donors, not by the SODIS Foundation. Our support focused on establishing links between different research groups and to identify an ideal place for field testing. The funds we receive through Global Giving are used for our own tests and for coordination activities.

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