27 June 2013
Five projects that will bring safe water and sanitation to communities around the world
The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge shortlist has been announced, highlighting five innovative ideas to provide sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. Winners will be announced in September at World Water Week in Stockholm and also featured in Elsevier’s Journal of Water Research. The first prize winner will receive $50,000 and the second place winner will receive $25,000.
In addition, a WASH Alliance prize of $15,000 will be given for the first time to the third place finisher. The Wash Alliance is a consortium of six Dutch NGOs promoting hygienic use of sustainable water and sanitation for all. All three winners will also be reimbursed for relevant training and professional development up to $2,500 each.
The shortlisted projects offer a range of affordable and accessible solutions to water and sanitation challenges in the developing world encompassing ecological sanitation waste treatment in Haiti; electro-chemical arsenic removal in Bangladesh; a solar-powered floating sanitation system also in Bangladesh; smartphone technology to map water points in Uganda; and improved sanitation facilities for rural villages in Cambodia. Shortlisted candidates will receive one year’s full access to relevant Reed Elsevier publications such as the Journal of Water Research to help them advance their work.
Projects were evaluated by water researchers and a panel of expert judges including Dr. Sarah Bell, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering, University College London; Dr. Prasad Modak, Executive President of the Environmental Management Centre in India; Professor Gang Pan, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Dr. Mark van Loosdrecht, Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology; and Hanny Mass, Programme Manager of the Dutch WASH Alliance. Key criteria for the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge are solutions that are replicable, scalable, sustainable, and innovative, which have practical applicability and involve local communities and other key stakeholders.
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. The aim of the Water for Life Decade is to support the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. World Health Organisation data from 2011 showed 768m people are dependent on unsafe drinking water sources, and 2.5bn people lack access to improved sanitation facilities.
Dr Márcia Balisciano, Director of Corporate Responsibility for Reed Elsevier, said: “The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge aligns with our efforts to reduce our own water footprint and to further knowledge and debate on water, sanitation and other environmental issues through our products and services.”
To learn more about the Environmental Challenge, please visit the Environmental Challenge website. You can see videos of previous winning projects here, and details on Reed Elsevier’s corporate responsibility agenda here.
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Notes to Editors
Please find a list of the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge shortlisted projects below:
- SOIL is developing low-cost ecological sanitation (EcoSan) waste treatment facilities in Haiti that compost waste collected from specially designed EcoSan toilets, creating rich compost sold to agricultural enterprises. Current waste facilities in Haiti only serve 5 percent of the population, a prime reason why cholera is widespread and deadly. If successful, prize money will expand SOIL’s Port-au-Prince EcoSan waste treatment facility, immediately benefiting 5,000 people.
- Gadgil Lab, UC Berkeley aims to bring safe water to local communities in Bangladesh through their invention, Electro-Chemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR). One in five adult deaths in Bangladesh are linked to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in untreated groundwater. The project’s financially sustainable model removes arsenic using ordinary steel plates and a low DC voltage. If successful, prize money will set up a 15 month field trial for approximately 2,500 school children, with excess arsenic-free water sold to the village community.
- Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha will introduce solar-powered floating rainwater harvesting and special floating sanitation facilities in Bangladesh. Every year, thousands of safe water and sanitation facilities are damaged or destroyed by floods; only 32 percent of the country’s rural population has access to safe sanitation. Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha uses solar-powered floating training centres, schools, health clinics, and libraries to bring villagers safe water and sanitation, also providing training on relevant topics such as flood-resistant crops. If successful, prize money will be used to improve their FloodToilet design and the floating rainwater harvesting centre, along with further local training.
- Text to Change proposes a tool to improve the availability of water in Uganda, using smartphone technology to map water points and alert experts when repairs are needed. The UN Joint Monitoring Program has estimated that water points in Africa fail between 30-60 percent of the time. Text to Change aims to provide an effective means of extending the life of Uganda’s water points. If successful, prize money will be used to map water points and educate 15,000 people on issues related to safe water, hygiene and sanitation.
- WaterSHED’s goal is to use local market channels to improve the supply of safe, sustainable, and affordable sanitation products and services in Cambodia. An estimated 1.8m households in rural Cambodia do not have access to safe sanitation. WaterSHED’s research has shown that Cambodians desire a shelter for sanitation facilities, and will not purchase a latrine without an appropriate accompanying structure. If successful, prize money will be used to develop shelters for sanitation facilities acceptable to local communities.
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