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.
Jan 24, 2013

Accessing micro-credit in 2012

Sara Zurita upgraded her house with a micro-credit
Sara Zurita upgraded her house with a micro-credit

Dear supporters,

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:

  • We promoted micro-credits with some 4,000 families and informed them about low-cost solutions to improve sanitation services.
  • We enabled 29 families to access a micro-credit in order to improve housing conditions, specifically related to sanitation.
  • Our micro-credit partner assigned US$ 12,000 as micro-credits, and additional US$ 13,000 are in the process of being assigned.

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,

Matthias Saladin

One of the informatioin sessions on micro-credit
One of the informatioin sessions on micro-credit

Links:

Nov 8, 2012

News from the indicator development

One of the indicators we are testing (helioz.org)
One of the indicators we are testing (helioz.org)

Dear supporters,

Every 20 seconds, a child dies because of diarrhea. As diarrhea is mostly caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions, we feel that our project can make a difference in this regard. In the project, which you supported in the past, we want to develop and produce a low-cost device to tell the user when their water is safe for consumption by making use of the method of Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS). Here is a short update from the latest developments:

One of our partner organizations (helioz.org) has just managed to produce a first small series of their indicator. We are currently talking to this organization on how to obtain funding for a field test - we want to give this device to 1,500 families in order to collect more data on the use and usefulness of the current design. Producing the device was just a part of the project, we now need to obtain funding for the distribution logistics, for the field promoters and for the data collection process.

This field test is important as it will help us identifying what are the key factors for an adequate product design. In our case, indicating the user what to do is not as simple as you'd expect: We need to distinguish three different states (turned off; turned on an in progress; ready) and communicate these states to the user in a simple way. As we want to use the indicator with low-income families and with people who often are illiterate, we need to find ways of communicating with the user without the use of text. In order to be able to use the same device in a number of different cultural settings (not only in Bolivia, but in Latin America, Africa and Asia), the communication also needs to be universally understood. Luckily, the spread of mobile phones in many low-income countries helped to establish a set of almost universally understood icons and we expect to use some of them (e.g., a smiley).

Meanwhile, we also want to test alternative designs. Ideally, we’d be able to field test different products simultaneously in one setting in order to compare their effectiveness and reliability. We hope that by creating some competition among different providers we will obtain the best results: a low-cost indicator which can help thousands of families to determine when their water is safe for consumption. With a small donation, you can support us in this task and be part of a simple solution for saving lives.

Thanking you in advance and with best regards from the project team,

Matthias Saladin

Links:

Oct 16, 2012

Opportunity on October 17: Bonus Day

Water is stored in used oil barrels: not safe
Water is stored in used oil barrels: not safe

Dear supporters,

Wednesday, October 17 is another Bonus Day. This means that all donations we receive that day will be matched by 30% by the Global Giving Foundation. This is an excellent opportunity to make your donation have an even bigger impact than usual, enabling additional families in Bolivia to access a micro-credit for water and sanitation improvements.

As we have reported earlier, the project keeps pushing ahead. Due to its nature, the project is advancing family by family, and even though we want to reach our goal of 100 credits approved by the end of the year, we are also aware that more important than than the number of credits is the change this projects brings about: families who have accessed credit are now able to store drinking water in large, safe tanks and do have water available all the time - previously, they were storing water in used (!) oil barrels, and because water is delivered only every 3-4 days by the tanker trucks, there were many days when there was no water at all. In this situation, a safe water tank makes a huge difference, not only for the wellbeing of the families, but also for health: where water is short in supply, basic hygiene tasks such as washing hands become a major challenge and frecuency of diarrheas and other waterborne diseases increase rapidly.

In the meantime, we keep promoting the micro-credits in peri-urban areas of Cochabamba and some surrounding small towns. One of the key obstacles for poor people to access credit are the security requirements: One needs to be land owner or have a long-term renting contract - both things are very unusual in informal settlements. Our micro-finance partner (EMPRENDER) is offering alternative securities (paid electricity bills, for example), and currently, we are also evaluating the possibility of giving credit to groups of people - experience has shown that this is a viable alternative which has considerable potential.

We will keep informing you about further developments of our project. Please take advantage of the opportunity of Bonus Day (October 17) and pass on the word to other people who may be interested in supporting our work.

With a big "Thank You" from the whole project team,

Matthias Saladin

Links:

 
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