Stockholm – Reed Elsevier, a world-leading provider of professional information solutions, today announced 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.
This year also saw the award of the first-ever WASH Alliance prize of $ 15,000 for the third place project. The WASH Alliance is a consortium of six Dutch NGOs promoting hygienic use of sustainable water and sanitation. The WASH Alliance is providing all three winners with relevant training and professional development up to $ 2,500 each. They also get access to Elsevier's ScienceDirect database, with over 57,000 articles on Environmental Sciences, for one year.
Youngsuk ("YS") Chi, Director Corporate Affairs at Reed Elsevier, 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 1.8 million households in rural Cambodia do not have access to safe sanitation. WaterSHED's research demonstrates that Cambodians desire a shelter for sanitation facilities, and will not purchase a latrine without an appropriate accompanying structure. Prize money will be used for WaterSHED's "Introduction of improved toilet shelter for increased sanitation coverage" project, developing shelters for sanitation facilities which are acceptable to local communities.
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 technology uses ordinary steel plates and low DC voltage. Prize money will be used to establish a 15 month field trial for approximately 2,500 school children, with excess arsenic-free water sold to the village community.
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 prize money will be used to map water points and educate 15,000 people on issues related to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation.
From 140 original applications, a shortlist of five candidates was chosen; the winning projects are replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative; emphasizing solutions with practical applicability. The Challenge's distinguished panel of judges includes Dr. Sarah Bell, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering, University College London; Professor Mark van Loosdrecht, Department of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology; Dr. Prasad Modak, Executive President, of India's Environmental Management Centre; Professor Gang Pan, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Engineer Hanny Maas, Programme Manager of the Dutch WASH Alliance. The projects will be featured in the Elsevier Journal of Water Research.
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.
Notes for editors
The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge winners will be available for interviews during the week of 2 September at World Water Week. Please contact Emmy Stevens for further information: Emmy.Stevens@reedelsevier.com.
Associated Press have produced a Video News Release, featuring sequences and interviews with key figures at the award ceremony and frontline footage from the three prize-winning projects. The video can be accessed and downloaded here: http://www.ap-corporateservices.com/multimedia-newsroom
To find out more about the Challenge:
Further information on the 2013 winners
Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge first place winner – WaterSHED
Introduction of Improved Toilet Shelters for Increased Sanitation Coverage
An estimated 1.8m million households in rural Cambodia do not have access to safe sanitation. WaterSHED's goal is to use local market channels to improve the supply of Cambodia's safe, sustainable, and affordable sanitation products and services. WaterSHED's research demonstrates that Cambodians desire a shelter for sanitation facilities, and will not purchase a latrine without an appropriate accompanying structure.
The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge award will allow WaterSHED to 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.
WaterSHED predicts their efforts will encourage more than 50,000 households to build latrines within the next two years, with far-reaching impacts across the region. http://www.watershedasia.org/about-watershed/
Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge second place winner – Gadgil Lab, UC Berkeley
Sustainable and scalable arsenic remediation of groundwater in South Asia
Deaths and disease are linked to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in untreated groundwater throughout South Asia. Gadgil Lab, UC Berkeley, aims to bring safe water to local communities in West Bengal through their invention, Electro-Chemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR). ECAR removes arsenic using ordinary steel plates and low DC voltage; its performance exceeds international standards for arsenic-safety across diverse groundwater conditions, and produces less waste sludge than conventional methods.
ECAR is rapidly scalable, directly addressing causes of previous failure through a focus on maintenance, ongoing education, affordability, and quality control.
The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge award will be used to distribute arsenic-safe water from the ECAR prototype to school children in West Bengal, in collaboration with school administration and its management committees. Schools will serve as educational hubs for awareness and community involvement, and social marketing. Excess water will be sold at locally affordable prices to the village community. http://gadgillab.berkeley.edu/
WASH Alliance prize winner – Text to Change
WaterMonitor: Managing water supply and engaging communities at scale
The UN Joint Monitoring Program has estimated that water points in Africa fail between 30-60 percent of the time, while mobile phone penetration in Africa is approaching 60% and growing. Text to Change will develop a mobile communication tool called WaterMonitor to improve access to water in Uganda, helping map and extend the lifetime of the country's water points.
WaterMonitor will allow stakeholders in the water value chain to map, monitor, and manage water infrastructure. Users will send a free SMS using simple codes to water companies containing all the relevant information needed for a repair, allowing water companies to respond more quickly.
The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge award will be used to map Uganda's water points and for engagement with communities on WaterMonitor through traditional media such as radio, television, and posters, and mobile phone alerts. http://www.texttochange.org/
About Reed Elsevier
Reed Elsevier Group plc is a world leading provider of professional information solutions. The group employs approximately 30,000 people of whom half are in North America. Reed Elsevier Group PLC is owned equally by two parent companies, Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV; the combined market capitalisation of the two parent companies is approximately £18bn/€21bn. Their shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RUK and ENL.
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