As we have been reporting, the project to provide 40 schools in Tiquipaya (Bolivia) with safe drinking water and improved hygiene conditions is advancing well. Apart from the dozens of trainings and support workshops to teachers and school kids, we also are receiving support from local autorities - most importantly, the Municipal Government and the Ministry of Education at district level. The support of the these institutions makes sure that the project will be continued, even after formal activities in the field will finish by the end of 2013.
One lesson learnt during the first phase of the project was to consider the importance of locally available materials. For example, water can be made safe for drinking by using common plastic bottles. This method, called SODIS (for Solar Water Disinfection) is very effective and we reported on this in previous reports. After several months of intensive use, these bottles are too scratched to be fully effective - but they still can be put to good use: as a water container in our hand washing stations (see picture).
Another example of locally available products is soap. Soap, even though available in most communities in Bolivia, is hardly ever present at schools because this type of small cash expenses is not considered in the municipal budget and schools do not have funds available for this. Therefore, our idea was to train a group of teachers and kids on how to produce soap with locally available materials. The idea was well received, and two schools arleady started making their own soap. The excess production is sold to surrounding families and the income generated by these sales can be used to keep buying the ingredients needed for soap production. In this way, soap will be available at all times in the future, independently from external support. This is the level we want to achieve with all our interventions, and we hope to continue progressing in this direction. For at some point in the future, all schools in Bolivia (and elsewhere) will have the basic services available which are needed for learning and growing in a healthy environment.
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Thank you and best regards from the project team,
We wanted to let you know about the exciting latest developments at our project. As you may know, we want to develop a device which tells users of the SODIS method (Solar Water Disinfection) when a bottle has been exposed to sufficient amounts of sunshine and the water is safe for drinking. We have been working with several companies and research groups around the world, and so far we have focused on electronic devices. However, we are now also using a second approach, which is based on colour-changing materials. These can be delivered in the form of stickers to the users, taking up very little space and for a fraction of the cost of an electronic device.
In May and June, we have been in contact with a group of scientist at Queens University in Belfast (Northern Ireland), and they have advanced significantly in the develpment of a prototype. Basically, they exposed different colour-changing materials to strong sunlight and measured how quickly colour changes. The results look like a bunch of coloured dots, but based on these results they can develop an advanced prototype, which we then will test in the field. Ideally, we want to have a material which is re-usable for many times, but this is a major technological challenge (the materials need to "recover" overnithg). Thus, for the moment we will work with disposable materials, but also keep derveloping the re-usable ones - they will be more cost-effective, save limited resources and produce less waste.
Please let us know if this report has been interesting and useful for you. If so, please share this message with someone who might be interested in this project and in supporting our cause of improving drinking water quality of marginalized people in Latin America. Obviously, we are still several months away from a finished product which may benefit millions of people. In the meantime, if you want to support a project with immediate impact on improving drinking water quality, have a look at our micro-project for 18 day care centers in Cochabamba (see link below).
Best regards from the whole project team,
PS: Just to avoid misinterpretations, we would like to clarify the the work of Queens University is directly funded by institutional donors, not by the SODIS Foundation. Our support focused on establishing links between different research groups and to identify an ideal place for field testing. The funds we receive through Global Giving are used for our own tests and for coordination activities.
During our recent visit to the field, we confirmed what the locally based team members told us before: that the project is progressing well, and that the impact is ever more visible. Whereas the project in the first year focussed on teaching kids and educational staff the importance of safe drinking water and how to obtain it, this year we want to get these messages to the whole community. As a starting point, we trained kids how to measure the quality of the locally available water - seeing that they actually were drinking water of non-potable quality got many people interested in our project and started to kick-start activities.
Just to mention a few of the activities carried out in 2013:
As you can see, we have been busy, and we are now starting the activities to involve the whole community...
On a different note, wewanted to let you know that June 12 is a Bonus Day. This means that all donations received that day will be topped up by another 50%. Starting at 9:00 am EDT, GlobalGiving will match donations of up to $1,000 made through www.globalgiving.org. For example, if you make a donation of $50, actually $75 will go to the project. So please take advantage of this great opportunity and make a donation to one of our projects - every donation makes a difference.
Best regards from the whole project team