Project #1905

Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 Children in Bolivia

by SODIS Foundation
Maria (Oruro) is showing her SODIS bottle
Maria (Oruro) is showing her SODIS bottle

Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 children in Bolivia

Project update June 2010

Dear supporters,

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 (, 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 (

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:

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,

Matthias Saladin

Mobile hand washing unit in action
Mobile hand washing unit in action


SODIS user Pamela Flores
SODIS user Pamela Flores

Project update and matching day: April 29, 2010

Dear supporters of the project “Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 children in Bolivia”:

From Haiti to Bolivia and around the world, water is in the headlines again, and we would like to point out to a few events and news related to our project:

The April issue of National Geographic (special edition on water) features an article on a project to promote Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) in the slums of Nairobi (Kenya). You can read the article (titled “High Marks for Clean Water”) online on the blog of National Geographic:

Since the beginning of the year, rains continue to fall in the Andes, with floods affecting thousands of families in the region. Due to increased temperatures, the glaciers of the region are releasing more water and causing many rivers reach record levels. Among others, the BBC is reporting on this phenomenon and documents the story of Alivio Aruquipa who went to the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in search of support to claim compensations for the damages caused by the melting glaciers. Read the story here: With large cities like La Paz and Lima relying heavily on glacier melt for their water supply, this will be an issue coming back to the headlines for the years to come.

In Cochabamba (Bolivia), where the SODIS Foundation is headquartered, water has an especially tragic story to tell. Ten years ago, a civil movement was formed to protest against the tariff hikes of the recently privatized municipal water supply agency. The violent clashes between protesters and the police, also known as “water war”, led to a state of emergency, the death of at least five protesters and finally the cancellation of the contract with the private company. One recent article on this story and the following developments can be found here:

Water often is a matter of live and death. Contaminated water continues to kill a child every 20 seconds worldwide. The good news is that the rate is dropping – but it is dropping slow, putting at risk millions of people. Today more than 800 million people drink water from unimproved sources – that is, from rivers, dug wells or irrigation channels. At the SODIS Foundation, we are working hard to change this and bring safe drinking water to those who need it most. With your support, we can go reach out to additional people. Thank you for your continuing support.

Best wishes from the SODIS Foundation,

For the project team: Matthias Saladin

School children drink safe SODIS water
School children drink safe SODIS water
Wall painting promoting SODIS at a school
Wall painting promoting SODIS at a school
Promotion of hand washing
Promotion of hand washing


Dear supporters, This is a short update from the project “Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 children in Bolivia”, including an announcement of a special donation opportunity on March 16, 2010.

Whereas the world was observing anxiously the emergencies in Haiti and in Chile, it has gone unnoticed that massive rainfalls in January triggered the Bolivian Government to declare a national state of emergency. In La Paz alone, 22,000 families lost all their belongings due to the heavy rainfalls and subsequent floods.

Nevertheless, many of you did not forget about the project. In spite of global attention being caught by the large-scale disasters in Haiti and Chile, generous donations keep coming in. We would like to thank all of our supporters for their continuing support - your help is a great motivation for us, and even with a small amount we can change the lives of many people for the better. Meanwhile, Bolivian children want back to school in February 2010. Staff of the SODIS Foundation, together with our partner institution Save the Children, participated in planning workshops with many schools in Oruro, El Alto and Cochabamba. The installation of more SODIS support structures (see pictures) was planned and will be completed in the next few weeks as the project is entering its final year. During a recent visit to the project, we witnessed that the activities are not only having an impact at schools, but also at homes. For example, Pamela Flores, a mother of a six year old girl who goes to one of the project schools, told us that her daughter requires her to prepare SODIS water every day. Pamela heard from the SODIS method before, but only after seeing it being implemented by the school she started practicing it at home – with support and instructions of her daughter. “We no longer drink untreated water. SODIS is so simple and my daughter also drinks SODIS water at the school” Pamela commented proudly. This is exactly what the project is about: creating awareness, enabling people to change behavior and learn healthy habits. These will last for years to come, providing protection to the families. Protection and behavior change is also important when disasters strike – not only in Haiti or Chile. The SODIS Foundation is therefore preparing plans to include simple instructions on how to obtain safe drinking water for emergency preparedness plans. In this way, people can be trained before a disaster strikes, and act accordingly in such situations. By now, one thing is clear for the people in Bolivia: after the dry season, the rains will come back every year, and with the rains the floods... A short notice at last: March 16 (Tuesday) is “Matching Day” at the Global Giving website (only, not All donations received on that day will be completed by an additional 30% by the Global Giving Foundation. If you donate on that specific day, your contributions will go even further, providing safe drinking water for even more children. Thank you and best regards, For the project team: Matthias Saladin


Dear supporters,

2009 is coming to its end and it’s time to wish everyone a joyful holiday season and all the best for 2010. At the same time, we also want to with you some thoughts about an actual issue:

As many of you have witnessed over the past few days, the climate conference in Copenhagen did not bring about the step ahead which many people were hoping for. This means that more time will be lost for mankind to find better ways of living in dignity without damaging the fundaments of future wellbeing. Nevertheless, at the SODIS Foundation we think that it’s not too late to contribute with our own first steps. Surprisingly, climate change is closely connected to the issues of drinking water (and thus survival) of people in Bolivia (and elsewhere).

As a highly recommendable article in the New York Times ( points out, glaciers are a low-maintenance form to store fresh water. Conveniently, they retain the water in the rainy season and slowly release it during the dry period. For countries like Bolivia, this is a blessing, thus facilitating agriculture, power generation and development in the valleys and lowlands. However, the glaciers are disappearing quickly: what was known as the “world’s highest ski resort” on Mount Chacaltaya just a few years ago today is a rocky landscape, unable to retain the snow falling on it. Worse, the snow now quickly turns into water, leading to devastating flash floods downstream, a scenario Bolivia is witnessing with increasing frequency. Cities like El Alto are already facing critical water shortages, threatening livelihoods of millions of people.

That is why it is important to do something about climate change, and something about the millions of people who do not have access to safe drinking water. Our project “Safe drinking water for 80,000 children in Bolivia” is just a humble attempt to take a first step. We would like to thank all our supporters for taking this step with us in 2009, and we will keep you informed about the continuing advances and developments. Without your support, this project would not be where it is today.

Thank you again. We wish you happy holidays and all the best for 2010!

Best regards from the SODIS Foundation,

Matthias Saladin


Parade on International Hand Washing Day
Parade on International Hand Washing Day

Dear supporters of the SODIS Foundation,

Thank for your continued support and interest in our work.

We are glad to inform you that the project in Bolivia is continuing to progress. Activities in the field finished in November as the schools entered summer holidays, and they will start again in February. It has been a busy year for the SODIS Foundation and its project partner Save the Children Bolivia. In a few months, more than 80,000 children have been trained on simple methods about how to obtain safe drinking water and improve hygiene. Through the parents committees at the schools, more than 20,000 parents were reached as well, and many of them are adopting the healthy habits taught at schools. These results make this initiative one of the biggest of its kind in the world, and the SODIS Foundation is glad to announce that the activities will continue in 2010.

One of the highlights was the participation of many project schools at the international hand washing day on October 15. At public events, children presented street theatres and poetry contests. The innovative mobile hand washing units, which had been developed during this project, also received considerable attention from the public and the media. As you can see from the pictures, it also is a moment of great pride for the children and gives them the opportunity to display their creativity.

We just received news that the in November, the project received donations over the amount of $ 1,131 through the Global Giving website. Thanks to everyone who contributed. We also wanted to let you know that the project is participating in's Christmas Giving Challenge, a fundraising opportunity for non-profit organizations working with communities around the world. Every donation helps, and no donation is too small. You can show your support for the SODIS Foundation for as little as £5 and make a big impact to our project. Just click on this link ( and follow the instructions.

Please spread the spirit of giving and share this email with your friends and family and ask them to help us too. Donations can also be made in dedication to someone (e-gift cards), which makes an excellent present. Giving a perfume to your loved ones is nice, but how much nicer is it to facilitate someone access to safe drinking water?

The whole team from the SODIS Foundation wishes you a happy giving season.

Thank you for your support, Matthias Saladin

International Hand Washing Day: October 15
International Hand Washing Day: October 15
Children explaining the SODIS method
Children explaining the SODIS method

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Organization Information

SODIS Foundation

Location: Cochabamba - Bolivia
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Matthias Saladin
Executive Co-Director
Cochabamba, Cochabamba Bolivia

Funded Project!

Thanks to 201 donors like you, a total of $33,970 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. 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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