2012 has been a busy year with some significant progress on the SODIS indicator. You probably are aware that the objective of this project is to develop an indicator which can tell a user when water in PET bottles has been exposed to enough sunshine and thus is ready for consumption (for more information on this fascinating process, please visit www.fundacionsodis.org). The main challenge is to do this at a very low cost, because this device needs to go to millions of people around the world, most of whom live on less than a dollar per day.
So far, we have managed to develop several prototypes, all of which do the job fairly well. However, as long as we are working with prototypes, a lot of manual work is involved, which makes the units expensive. Thus, we need to produce on a different scale (mass production), but also to make sure that we got the design right. "Getting it right" in our case means three things:
1) The indicators need to work properly, indicating the users when they have to wait and when the water is ready for consumption.
2) The devices have to withstand very rough conditions (heat, sunshine, wind, rain, etc.).
3) They need to communicate in a very simple way with the end user when the water is ready for consumption.
In order to achieve this, we are now preparing a field test with some fairly advanced prototypes. At the moment, they are still too expensive, but before we start mass production, we need to make sure the design we are working with is the right one.
The devices we are working with are made of a radiation sensor, an electronic circuit and some kind of a display (typically LEDs). In parallel, we also work with an alternative approach: Paper stickers which change color depending on the amount of radiation received. In cooperation with the University of Cochabamba (Bolivia), we just completed a series of tests with one of these products, which shows promising results: The paper changes within 8 hours from red to yellow (see picture above). However, the product is not re-useable and the color change is slightly too slow for our purpose. Therefore, we are now looking for alternative products and for mechanisms to make the indicator re-useable.
We will keep you updated about progress on our side. If you found this report useful, feel free to share it with your friends and family and pass on the word.
With best regards from the whole project team,
This is a short update on our project to facilitate micro-credits to low-income families in Cochabamba (Bolivia). Throughout 2012, the project reached the following milestones:
This means that 29 families – more than 200 people - have significantly improved their lives. The families who access credit really do improve their living conditions and are very satisfied with the services provided by the project. Throughout the year, we realized that it makes sense to combine improvements in sanitation conditions with general improvement of the houses, which provides additional benefits. As an example, the picture above shows Martha Zurita, one of the clients of our project, in the middle of the construction work for her new toilet/bathroom. Thanks to the micro-credit provided by the project, she now has access to decent sanitary facilities, which improved health and wellbeing of her whole family of six.
In spite of these success stories, the numbers also show that we are going at a slow rate – in a city of some estimated 600,000 inhabitants, thousands of families are still without basic sanitary services. Therefore, the challenge at hand is formidable: Based on our experience, out of 100 families who participate in our information sessions, 6 show up at one of the offices of our micro-credit partner institution and 3 comply with all the conditions to access credit. This means that the costs of promotion are high, and we need to find better ways to cover these costs.
It also is important to point out that so far, credit failure rate is below 1%, which even on a micro-credit standard is a very good value and shows that the model of the project is working. Thus, we are looking forward to new progress and additional families accessing credit for improving their housing and sanitation conditions in 2013.
Please feel free to provide us feedback on the project and our reporting. Our mission is to continuously improve the water and sanitation conditions of people most in need, and you can help us doing this by letting us know what you think about this project and the report.
Best regards from the whole project team,
The first year of our project in 40 schools in Tiquipaya (Bolivia) has finished. Currently, school kids in Bolivia are on summer vacation (yes, this is summertime in the Southern part of the planet) and only will return to school in February 2013. As we reported earlier, our project has brought about sifnificant changes to the schools, mostly related to water and hygiene behaviour. Behaviour change is a slow and complex process, but within a short time, we achieved that most kids (and teachers as well) started drinking treated water and washing hands at critical moments. These changes seem simple but they make a big difference in the lives of people: children who drink safe water and wash hands is significantly better than the one of their peers who do not apply these simple solutions for saving lives.
The project will continue for another year and we are already preparing the materials and trainings for 2013. However, before we start with our activities at schools again, we wanted to share with you an official certificate we received from the Ministry of Education at District level – they are thanking the SODIS Foundation for its dedicated work (see picture). In this way, we would like to say thank you to all our supporters – thanks to people like you, this project has been possible and thousands of lives have been improved.
In the coming months, you will hear from us again, reporting from the experiences in the field, about successes, failures and challenges. We hope this project is as motivating and exciting as it is to us, and we will be looking forward to receiving some feedback from you – please let us know how we can continue to improve our reports and the way we keep you informed.
We hope you enjoy the holiday season and wish you all the best for 2013.
For the whole project team,