This is just a quick update from the field to let you know about recent developments in our project. During December and January, we were busy producing the educational materials to be used at the schools and communities, defining our intervention plan and meeting with local authorities in order to coordinate activities. On Friday, February 22, the coordination workshop with the local population took place (see picture), which also was the official launch of the project. We explained the goals of the project and what kind of interventions we are planning to implement in order to strengthen local capacities to respond to emergency situations. Participants - representatives from the project communities - were very interested to find out more about these novel methods and technologies.
We witnessed how fast news spread, even in places where coverage with cellular phones is intermittent at best. Apart from the communities where our project will take place, representatives from five more communities came to the workshop and required to be part of the project. As our resources are limited and we want to implement a well-controlled pilot trial, we offered these communities a full-day training session and support to establish and train local Emergency Brigades (groups of volunteers who are in charge of developing emergency plans and coordinate activities in the case of an emergency). Three such trainings already took place (in Tijrasca, Mollini and Llallaguani) and were met with great interest on behalf of the local population. We are now discussing with local authorities how to respond to additional demand for trainings and information sessions.
Apart from progress in the field, we also would like to inform you about a special donation opportunity: On March 13th, all donations will be matched by additional 30% by the Global Giving Foundation. That means that if you donate $100 that day, $130 will actually go to the project (any amount up to $1,000 will be matched). Matching will begin at 9:00 am EDT (this time in your city) and matching will last until funds run out or 11:59 pm EDT. If you consider making a donation to our project (or any other on www.globalgiving.org), please make use of this special opportunity. For no extra effort, you will get 30% more impact out of your donation.
Please let us know if this project report met your expectations. We are happy to provide additional information or answer specific questions – it is up to you to get involved. If you think this report was useful, please pass it on to your personal contacts – thank you.
Best regards from the whole project team,
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.