Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge 2013 winners announced

Reed Elsevier announced today the winners of the 2013 Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation.

The $50,000 first and $25,000 second prize winners were announced during World Water Week in Stockholm, a unique annual event bringing together water researchers, policymakers, journalists, companies and non-profits to address the key water challenges of the 21st century.

YS Chi, Director Corporate Affairs, said: “We are proud to support this year’s important winning projects, which harness advanced thinking in design, technology and community involvement, to address the need for reliable sanitation and water for thousands in the developing world. At Reed Elsevier, we produce scientific material which we are making available to the winners to progress their work. We are delighted the Environmental Challenge adds three powerful new water and sanitation initiatives to four great projects we’ve supported over the last three years.”

The $50,000 first prize winner is WaterSHED, an NGO which engages local enterprises and governments to develop sustainable, market-based approaches to effective water and sanitation provision in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. An estimated 1.8m households in rural Cambodia do not have access to safe sanitation. WaterSHED will iteratively design and test-market a solution to improve access to toilet facilities for a significant portion of rural Cambodians, providing an affordable, attractive, and accessible shelter using durable, environmentally safe materials.

The $25,000 second prize winner is Gadgil Laboratory at UC Berkeley, for its “Sustainable and scalable arsenic remediation of groundwater in South Asia” project. Deaths and disease are linked to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in untreated groundwater throughout South Asia. Through their invention, Electro-Chemical Arsenic Remediation, Gadgil Laboratory will bring safe water to local communities in West Bengal, where arsenic contamination of groundwater is rife.

The WASH Alliance prize of $15,000 was awarded to Text to Change, an NGO which produces innovative mobile solutions for development, for its “WaterMonitor: Managing water supply and engaging communities at scale” project. The UN Joint Monitoring Program has estimated that water points in Africa fail between 30-60 percent of the time. Text to Change will use smartphone technology to map Uganda’s water points and alert experts when repairs are needed in order to extend the life of the country’s water points.

The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge was launched in 2011 to contribute to the Water for Life Decade, established by the UN General Assembly between 2005 and 2015, in order to reduce by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

You can read the press release on and watch a video about the winners here.