This is a short update from the SODIS Foundation and from the project to provide micro-credit to families in Cochabamba (Bolivia), which you supported in the past.
The big news is that the SODIS Foundation managed to sign an institutional agreement with two strong partners: KIVA is a world-leading non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty (www.kiva.org), and EMPRENDER is a Bolivian micro-finance institution focusing its work on supporting micro-entrepreneurs in the peri-urban an rural areas. Together with the SODIS Foundation, these two organizations now are launching a new phase of the project in order to help people and families to improve their water and sanitation conditions. The promotional phase is in full swing, with posters and fliers being handed out to potential customers at the offices of EMPRENDER. We are truly excited about this recent development, which shows that carefully testing and developing the mechanisms and tools for this project over the past two years were worth the effort.
On the technical side, important innovations were pushed ahead as well. As toilets are an important component of our project, we joined forces with a local company who produces pre-fabricated construction modules. With the use of these modules, it now is possible to construct a new toilet in 4 instead of 20 days - that's an important step ahead which also will help us reducing costs. The design is an Eco-Toilet, meaning that it will allow users to produce their own compost and fertilizers, rather than having to pay to dispose of a stinking cesspit. It also includes a shower, which will add additional value to the product and was a clearly expressed need of our pilot customers.
We hope that with these recent developments, we are not in a position to really bring to scale the projects. In only one week of full promotion, already five customers have gone through the whole process of credit application and approval, and dozens are still in the process.
Please feel free to let us know if this report was useful to you and what kind of additional information you would like to receive. We are always trying to learn and improve, and reporting to you is an important part of our work.
Looking forward to hearing back from you,
Best regards from the whole project team,
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.
Over the past few weeks, we have developed a new model for a waterless toilet. This is important for several reasons:
- Most families in peri-urban areas of Bolivia are not connected to a water supply network. And even where such connections exist, water usually is delivered only for a few hours per day (if at all). Thus, water is a precious good which can not be used for things like flushing the toilet.
- The price of our new model is significantly lower than existing products thanks to the use of pre-fabricated cement elements. These elements also allow for a faster installation of the toilet, bringing down overall costs of the product.
- Combining a high quality but low-price waterless toilet with micro-credit is crucial for accelerating access to sanitation. In Bolivia, only 30% of the population have access to improved sanitation - literally millions of people need a toilet.
In order to further promote this product, the SODIS Foundation will participate in a large trade fair in Cochabamba in November. This will allow us to present the innovation to a wide audience and accelerate its diffusion. We are currently raising funds to showcase the waterless toilet and participate at the fair: Of the 2,500 dollar needed (renting a space, constructing the pilot model, printing flyers), we already secured 40% thanks to a private donor. We encourage all our previous supporters to donate to our project:
If you donate today (Wednesday, October 19), your donation will be complemented by another 30% by the Global Giving Foundation. Take advantage of this opportunity and make your donation today, making your donation 30% more effective than during the rest of the year. This special offer applies to all on-line donations (credit card and PayPal) up to $ 1,000 received today. Please also feel free to forward this information to friends who may be interested.
Today I want to tell you a story of responsibility and courage which we came across in our project. Doña Soledad is a single mother in her thirties (see picture), living on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba (Bolivia) with her six children. She moved to the city several years ago and lives in an improvised one-apartment adobe hut. She makes a living on selling bakery and other food items she produces herself. Up to now, the family did not own a toilet or a latrine - "going to the toilet" for them meant going to field behind the house. For Doña Soledad, this not only implied a health risk to her and her children, but also a matter of (in)dignity – every time she was remembered to be poor and excluded from even the most basic services.
But Doña Soledad had a dream. Her dream was to have an adequate sanitary installation. Installing a conventional flush toilet was not an option because her house is not connected to the water network (she buys the water for drinking, washing and cleaning from a truck and stores it in barrels). Through the promotional activities of our project, she heard of the concept of Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) and of a novel type of toilet, which does not require water for flushing - and on top, it generates fertilizer and compost. In a city with chronic water shortage and a mostly dysfunctional sewerage system, this is a very good option we want to promote further. Doña Soledad was very excited about the solution, because it not only solved a pressing problem for her family, but it also allowed her to do something for the planet- this was the decisive factor for her to apply for a credit.
The rest of the story is told quickly: Doña Soledad went to our micro-credit partner and applied for a loan. The conditions (9.5% annual interest rate and a duration of 3 years) beat any commercial offer on the national market – and it not only includes the product itself (the EcoSan-toilet and a sink), but also advisory services on behalf of the SODIS Foundation. After the construction was finished, Doña Solange also received an in-depth training on how to operate and maintain the system.
Today, Doña Soledad has an adequate sanitary service. She told us that she now can start inviting guests to her house and that she is proud to be the owner of the first EcoSan-toilet in her neighborhood. We are now working with different producers of components to make this toilet more affordable and faster to construct, so that in the future more people like Doña Soledad can have a safe, odorless toilet close to their home.
Our project continues to promote simple solutions to improve water and sanitation services with the support of micro-credit. In order to keep developing even better models and products, we need your support. Please consider making a donation to our project or tell your friends about it. Every donation makes a difference for people without access to water and sanitation services.
Thanking you in advance and with best regards from the whole project team,
P.S. Please mark October 19th on your agenda – this will be this year’s last chance to have your donation complemented by additional donors. Each donation we receive that day (up to the amount of 1,000 US$) will be increased by 30%, making your contribution even more effective than usually.
This is a short update on our project to provide micro-credit for 100 suburban families in Cochabamba-Bolivia. As we have reported previously, the learning phase of this project provided us with a solid model for providing micro-credits to families in sub-urban neighbourhoods. The special aspect of this model is that three different organizations cooperate in order to provide an optimal service to these families:
The credits all are destined for improving water and sanitation services: families can install a rainwater collection tank, connect to the water distribution network (where there is one), purchase water saving devices or construct a toilet, among other options. Thanks to the three institutions working together, families are sure the funds are used effectively and according to their specific needs.
Moreover, thanks to your donation, we can offer a lower-than market interest rate to these families. An annual interest rate of 9.75 is very attractive for Bolivia, where especially low-income families often only have access to profiteers charging as much as 30-40% annual interest rates.
As you may expect, which such an attractive model, the project is generating a lot of interest. In fact, this month we received a visit from KIVA, a world leading organization in the area of micro-credits. They found the model highly interesting and we are currently discussing options with them on how to scale it up. We will keep you informed on these exciting developments.
We also would like to point out to the “recurring donation campaign” on the Global Giving website. With this new feature, you can now donate over a certain period of time (e.g., $10 per month). Such donations help us to improve project planning and we would like to encourage you to make use of this function.
Thank you again for your support.
For the project team,
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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