Project #1905

Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 Children in Bolivia

by SODIS Foundation
Group presentation of SODIS during a health fair
Group presentation of SODIS during a health fair

Dear supporters,

This is a short message with some updates from the field and an announcement of an upcoming opportunity to increase the impact of your donations.

During a recent field trip, two volunteers of the SODIS Foundation, Valerie Grosscup and Jonathan Spear, visited several project schools. They went to schools in El Alto and Oruro, talked to teachers, school directors and students and came back with a lot of impressions and ideas. One thing they learned is that in the schools in El Alto, where project activities had started much earlier than in Oruro, there is much more practice of SODIS and hand washing at the classrooms. This confirms our experience that change does not come over night, neither by a single workshop or training. Whereas these learning moments are important, the key of behavior change consists of repetition and motivation, which takes a lot of time and effort (those of you who have experience in teaching children to brush their teeth or wash their hands may know this…).

The visit of Valerie and Jonathan, along with other monitoring activities of the SODIS Foundation, confirmed that the project is progressing well. Over the past months, the training activities in the field have reached all 231 schools involved in the project. More than 800 students were trained as peer trainers, as well as more than 800 teachers and school directors. In more than 100 schools, some simple structures were installed for exposing the bottles to sunlight. Furthermore, “healthy corners” were installed in over 100 schools, where the treated water is kept and where students can wash their hands.

You may be aware that on a global scale, hand washing is being recognized as an effective prevention not only for waterborne diseases, but also for influenza (including the “swine flu”). This situation highlights the importance of this project, providing over 200 schools with simple yet effective shields against public health threats. The next time you wash your hands, you may want to think about the luxury of safe dinking water coming out of the tap – it saves thousands of lives, day after day.

We also would like to announce an important opportunity: During November, all donations we receive through the website will be matched by at least 30% by the Global Giving Foundation. This means that for example a donation of 10$ will actually generate 13$ of benefits, and the more funds we raise, the more matching money we receive (up to 50% if we raise at least 7,500$ during this challenge). We therefore would like to encourage you considering a donation to the project – every donation makes a difference!

Please let us know if this project update was useful for you by leaving a comment on the website. We continuously strive to improve our services and are grateful for any feedback.

Thanking you for your support,

Matthias Saladin

By the way, you can also find us – and many pictures of from the project – on Facebook. Simply type “Safe Drinking WAter for Children in Latin America” in the search bar of Facebook.

Teachers during a training workshop
Teachers during a training workshop
SODIS support at a local school
SODIS support at a local school


SODIS promotion at school
SODIS promotion at school

Dear supporters of the Safe Drinking Water Project in Bolivia,

We are overwhelmed by the surge in support and donations we received over the past two months. As a highlight, we achieved the goal of raising 2,000 £ through donations of the Global Giving UK website, as a result of our participation in the “Alive and Learning Challenge”. Thanks to this great achievement, our project was included in the winner’s page (which can be found here:, as one of only five projects (out of over 60 participants) which achieved this goal.

We therefore want to thank everybody who helped us reach this goal: the project team, the fundraising team, and especially you, the donors. Thanksk to you, every day more schools are enrolled in the project, and every day more children obtain access to the healthiest of all drinks: safe water.

In this sense, a happy “cheers” to you from the SODIS Foundation. We will soon update you on project progress on the ground.

Best regards, Matthias Saladin

NB: As another highlight, we just received donation number 100 and quickly are approaching the 10,000-dollar-limit of total project donations. Thank you!

Handwashing at school
Handwashing at school


Dear Supporters of the Safe Drinking Water Project in Bolivia,

We wanted to quickly update you on important developments within the project „Safe Drinking Water for 80,000 Children in Bolivia“, and also let you know about a special fundraising challenge.

During a recent visit to the project we confirmed that the activities are advancing well. As we have previously informed, it was possible to significantly improve the number of beneficiaries of the project, thanks to negotiations with our partner institution Save the Children ( The project will now reach more than 80,000 children in about 230 schools, rather than the initially planned 10,000 children. This massive increase is possible thanks to the great interest of teachers and school directors, who are aware of the importance of safe drinking water and hygiene at their schools.

Up to now, more than 860 teachers have been trained on how to obtain safe drinking water by using the simple SODIS method. Similarly, 767 pupils received training on SODIS and hygiene; they now will be responsible for training their peers and supervise the proper application of the SODIS method at school.

Over the past few months, the focus of the promotion efforts was on hand washing, which complements the safe drinking water component. The simple habit of hand washing with soap can not only prevent many cases of diarrhoea but also any type of flu. By the end of May, the H1N1 virus had arrived in Bolivia, and by the beginning of July, more than 400 cases have been reported, so the hand washing campaign was launched just in time to prepare schools and families for this new threat. After some initial difficulties with handling common hand washing basins, the special “mobile hand washing units” were designed and promoted – a big success with teachers and pupils alike. These units use less water and are safer to use than common water basins. They can be made from PET bottles – for example the ones that are too scratched to be used for SODIS.

On July 13, staff of the SODIS Foundation invited local media to visit some of the project schools in Cochabamba. In the neighbourhood called “Uspha Uspha”, they discovered a small restaurant, which offered all its home-made fruit juices based on SODIS water. Veronica Alanes, the owner of the restaurant, mentioned that her innovative drinks were well received by children, but also by adults. SODIS water now comes with taste of lemon, passion fruit or “tumbo”, the popular fruit of a local cactus. Of course, the restaurant also is equipped with a mobile hand washing unit for the clients. In this way, they will enjoy safe drinks and good hygiene – at no additional cost.

Furthermore, we also would like to inform you that our project has been invited by the Global Giving Foundation in the United Kingdom ( to participate in the “Alive and Learning” fundraising challenge. A number of projects from around the world dealing with children and education have been selected to participate in this challenge. Between July 15 and August 14, they will be promoted through the website of the Global Giving UK Foundation, and the most successful projects will be eligible for prizes and additional promotions.

We therefore kindly invite you to support our project once more – either by a donation through , or by forwarding this message to friends and colleagues who may be interested. Remember that any amount is welcome, no matter how small; it only costs £ 12 to train a teacher to produce and promote safe drinking water.

We thank all our donors for their continuing support, which serves as a great motivation to the whole team.

Kind regards, Matthias Saladin

PS: June was our most successful fundraising month this year – so let’s make July even better!

Mobilel hand washing unit
Mobilel hand washing unit

Dear Supporters,

It has been a while since you last heard from the project team in Bolivia. In December 2008, we were invited to join a special fund-raising campaign, which received much attention and feedback. In spite of the fact that we did not reach our fundraising target (5,000 USD in one month), there have been many contributions, and we were the most successful project (out of 42) from Latin America. Even after the campaign, funds kept coming in steadily, in spite of an ever worsening economic outlook worldwide. We would like to thank all our supporters for their help in hard times – it is very motivating for us to see so many people contributing to the project.

In Bolivia, the project has made considerable progress over the past few months. In November 2008, staff of the SODIS Foundation trained dozens of facilitators of “Save the Children” on the specific methodology. They in turned started with the training workshops for teachers. So far, more than 700 teachers have been trained in 2008. After holiday season (December and January traditionally are “summer vacation” in Bolivia), the project team went back to work as soon as classes started in February 2009. Local authorities and the parents of the school kids were informed about the project, in order to facilitate the spreading of healthy habits from school to homes.

At the classrooms and schools, the transition is already visible. Not only are there many bottles placed on the roofs or ready for consumption in the classrooms, but also a large number of the innovative “mobile hand washing units” can be seen (see pictures). These units are made of used PET bottles and enable kids to wash their hand at any time, using only very little water.

The project is now in full swing. Within the next few months, SODIS and hand washing will be promoted at all 231 schools of the project as well as in their surroundings. In some schools, poetry and drawing competitions will be held and health fairs will be organized. The SODIS Foundation will keep visiting the project in the field and keep you informed about the latest developments.

Once more, we would like thank all our project supporters. In the words of a child from the project region: “Thanks to SODIS we now have good drinking water, and my headache has gone away…”

P.S. Please let us know what you think of this update by providing feedback in the comments section.

Training workshop for teachers
Training workshop for teachers
Safe drinking water at classrooms
Safe drinking water at classrooms


Dear friends of the SODIS Foundation,

The new phase of the SODIS promotion project is taking shape. Over the past few months since the last update, the new project phase has been defined in detail, and we already started with the training workshops. This project update provides you with some additional information on how the project is advancing.

Project up-date November 2008

After completing the pilot phase of the project, it was decided to make some changes to the project, the most important ones being its scale (about 88,000 children will now benefit instead of 10,000) and its partner (one large NGO rather than several small ones). In July and August 2008, the SODIS Foundation and its partner “Safe the Children Bolivia” then set out to define the details of this joint project. Among the main features are the following:

- The project will benefit 231 schools in three Departments of Bolivia: La Paz, Oruro and Cochabamba. - A newly developed methodology will be applied, focusing on the active participation of the schools as well as the parents. - The project will be implemented in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the municipalities, whose staff will be actively involved in project activities. - The project will be launched in all 231 schools at the beginning of the educational year 2009 (starting in February 2009) and will last 2 years.

Save the Children Bolivia and the SODIS Foundation want to focus this project on two key healthy behaviors: Consumption of safe water (through the method of Solar Water Disinfection) and hand washing. For this purpose, the teachers first will demonstrate the methods, and then, a “healthy corner” will be installed in each class room. Additionally, there will be three pupils in every class responsible for SODIS and hand washing. The parents will be informed and involved as well, so that the healthy habits not only will remain at the schools, but also be put into practice at home.

In October 2008, the new project phase was planned in detail. In early November, the technicians of Save the Children were trained on the specific methodology and the parent’s committees of the schools involved were informed about the project. Over the next couple of months, all the teachers of the 231 schools will be trained on how to teach these simple methods at class and on how to motivate children to actually practice the healthy habits.

The SODIS Foundation will keep informing about this project. Over the next few weeks, we will participate with this project in the "Everybody can Win Challenge" of GlobalGiving. If successful, this will generate additional funds so that even more kids in Bolivia can benefit from this simple intervention. So if you can, please support the project. In the name of the beneficiaries, I would like to thank you in advance for any kind of support.

And the best about all this: With this project, it costs less than 3 dollars to allow a child to drink safe water for a year – that’s less than your coffee this morning. Safe drinking water reduces risks of waterborne diseases and improves school attendance – the basics for a brighter future.

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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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