October 15 was global hand washing day. The ones of you who have heard or read about this global initiative are aware of how big an impact can be achieved by something as simple as washing your hands (see www.globalhandwashingday.org). Of course, hand washing is also part of our project in Bolivia, which you supported in the past and many of you keep generously supporting. A recent visit to some of the schools showed that hand washing not only is a well-established habit at these institutions but actually a lot of fun. For example, Miriam (12, picture below) from a small village in the department of Oruro showed us how old plastic bottles can be used for washing your hands if you do not have a tap with running water – it all is a matter of know-how and creativity.
The field activities of our project are now coming to an end. In September, the SODIS Foundation participated in official closing ceremonies at several schools, all of which demonstrated the great success the project achieved in a short time. Safe drinking water is now available at these institutions, and both teachers and pupils can tell that this makes a big difference. Moreover, the project also inspired parents to re-consider the way they consume water – they now know that water always needs to be disinfected before drinking, either by boiling, by adding chlorine products, by using ceramic filters or by applying the innovative SODIS method (www.sodis.ch).
In spite of the fact that activities in the field are coming to an end, the project has not finished yet. In fact, a really important part just about started: telling other people and organizations about this positive experience and showing them how they can do the same. The project already sparked a lot of interest, and among other things the SODIS Foundation was invited by UNICEF to present this experience at an international workshop in Nicaragua. We want to continue to spread the message and thus kindly ask all our supporters to consider a donation to the project – any amount is welcome. Even with a small donation of 20 dollars we can hand out an information package to a partner organization and thus help more schools and children to get access to safe drinking water and to implement healthy habits.
Donations received between October 12 and 20 are completed by at least 30% by matching grants from the Global Giving Foundation, so please consider donating as soon as possible as matching grants are limited.
We also would like to encourage you to send us your feedback or questions you may have regarding the project. We are always on the search for improving the way we work and communicate – and also feel free to check out the new design of our website (www.fundacionsodis.org).
Looking forward to hearing back from you,
Best regards from the whole project team,
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,