We just received news from the Global Giving Foundation that very soon our supporters will be able to donate by sending a text message from their cellular phone. The best part of it is that 100% of the donation goes to the project. This is very exciting news and we shortly will inform you about the details.
We also wanted to let you know how our project to develop a low-cost indicator for Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) is developing. We have just completed a series of calibration tests with our prototype, which gave us proof that we are on track. The next step for this project now is to produce a small series of prototypes with an improved form factor so that we can give them to potential users of the product. This is very important as the acceptance and user friendliness of a product determine the value it provides to the user. We therefore are now raising funds to produce the small series of prototypes for field testing.
Over the past months, we have adjusted our primary target audience for the SODIS indicator. Initially, we expected that this would be a device which can help every person or family who wants to purify drinking water with the SODIS method to determine the exact moment when the water is safe for drinking. However, given that most of these people earn less than 1 dollar per day, they are unlike to be able to purchase such a product. Giving the indicators for free is an option, but this creates inequalities (who do we give it to?) and inefficiencies (there are no established channels for widely distributing free products). Additionally, we perceived that free products are often considered of low value by the beneficiaries. Thus, we think that a better strategy is to develop a product which will help people like teachers or health promoters to train others on how to do SODIS. If this promotion process can be supported by the SODIS indicator, we may reach additional people, and more people will be willing to try the method for a first time.
Best regards from the whole project team,
Our project to develop an indicator to simplify the application of Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) is making good progress: we calibrated a first series of prototypes and at the same time are already working on a second generation prototype. For this second generation, we obtained free support of a professional design company in Seattle.
The calibration measurements confirmed that our idea of powering the device with solar energy is working well. The idea is quite obvious because the method of SODIS also is based on solar energy. However, we first had to prove that the solution works in practice and that it is cost-effective. This is crucial because we do not want to loose one of the key advantages of the SODIS method: it’s low cost. In fact, SODIS is essentially for free: you only need common PET bottles and sunshine (for more details on how the method works, you may want to check out www.sodis.ch) in order to obtain safe drinking water.
With the results from the calibration phase, we are now preparing a next project phase, which will include the production of a small series of the improved prototype. These devices will then be demonstrated to potential users and promoters of the SODIS method in several countries and regions. With the feedback from these demonstrations we will guide a next phase of development. We expect to complete production of the small series by the end of November and start the demonstrations after that.
If you are interested in the method of Solar Water Disinfection, you may want to subscribe to the SODIS newsletter of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (http://www.sodis.ch/news/newsletter/index_EN). This is the research institute which carried out much of the early investigations on SODIS and continues to function as a global reference center for the method. They estimate that by now, 3-5 million people worldwide are using SODIS to disinfect their drinking water, a number which has been confirmed by the Joint Monitoring Programme of WHO/UNICEF (http://www.wssinfo.org/). Even though this is an impressive achievement for a completely non-commercial method, it is not even 1 percent of the people who currently lack access to an improved water source (currently more than 1 billion people worldwide!).
Thus, methods like SODIS, but also other simple methods to disinfect water at point of consumption need to be promoted on a much greater scale if we want to stop a child dying every 15 seconds from diarrhea. We expect that the indicator we are currently developing will be an important step in this direction, and we are thankful for all the support we obtain in pursuing this goal. We will continue to inform you about progress on our side and are looking forward to hearing back from you.
Best regards from the whole project team,
P.S. Please mark October 19th on your agenda – this will be this year’s last chance to have your donation complemented. Each donation you make that day (up to the amount of 1,000 US$) will be increased by 30%, making your contribution create even more impact.
This is a short update on our project to develop an indicator for the method of Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS). Things have been busy at our side: Our partner for the development of the indicator, PotaVida (http://potavida.org) not only produced the first series of prototypes but also participated at the Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge of the University of Washington. They placed second, which is a great achievement considering the strong competition from 104 other teams.
In the next few weeks, we will start calibration measurements of the prototype, whereas the team of PotaVida already is working on an improved design of the device. The requirements are very challenging: it has to be waterproof, resistant to solar radiation and heat, lightweight and low-cost.
Based on the data of calibration and laboratory experiments, we then will produce a small series of the indicator and field test it with potential users in the second half of 2011. We are currently raising funds for these field tests and welcome any support to bring us closer to our goal: to facilitate the promotion of Solar Water Disinfection, which has the potential to benefit millions of people who currently do not have access to safe drinking water.
We also would like to point out to the “recurring donation campaign” on the Global Giving website. With this new feature, you can now donate over a certain period of time (e.g., $10 per month), rather than one amount at a time. Such recurring donations help us to improve project planning and we would like to encourage you to make use of this function for future donations.
Thank you again for your support.
For the project team,
This is a short up-date on our project to develop and field-test an indicator for Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS). SODIS is a simple process to obtain safe drinking water by exposing it in transparent plastic bottles to sufficient amounts of sunlight (see www.sodis.ch). Depending on the intensity of radiation, the SODIS method will deliver safe drinking water either in 6 hours or in two days - and the difference between the two intensities is not always easy to tell. Therefore, the main idea of the SODIS indicator is to enable users of the SODIS method to detect the current level of sunlight intensity.
The project emerged from an open innovation challenge which was launched last year on the platform of InnoCentive (www.innoventive.com). More than 70 project teams handed in proposals on how a SODIS indicator may function and look like. The SODIS Foundation invited a team of international experts from research and industry to evaluate these proposals. The winning proposal came from a team of students at the University of Washington, who received the award of 40,000 USD donated by the Rockefeller Foundation. The solar-powered, re-usable device convinced the evaluators because of its design and its low price. Based on this experience, the students decided to set up their own non-profit organization (PotaVida: www.potavida.org) and keep developing the idea of a SODIS indicator.
In January, the SODIS Foundation, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (www.eawag.ch) and PotaVida managed to obtain funding for the technical development of a prototype. The design of the device is now reviewed again and different alternatives are evaluated. At the same time, we keep raising funds for the field testing, which will take place once the first prototype series has been developed and tested at laboratories. We look forward to these exiting developments and will keep you informed about progress on our side.
In the meantime, please support our work by spreading the word on this project further or by making a donation on the link below. Every donation will bring us a step closer to our main goal: make safe drinking water available to everybody.
By the way: On March 16, all donations will be complemented by another 30% by matching funds from the Global Giving Foundation. Take advantage of this special offer and support our project with a donation early on that day (matching funds are limited and will be allocated to the first $75,000 received that day on www.globalgiving.org).
Thank you for your support,
Best regards from the project team,
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