Public Release: 

2012 Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge winners announced

First and second prize winners awarded for safe water and sanitation solutions in the developing world


Stockholm, August 27, 2012 - Reed Elsevier, a world leading provider of professional information solutions, today announced the winners of the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge which awards innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. The $50,000 first and $25,000 second prize winners were awarded during the annual World Water Week in Stockholm which convenes water researchers, policymakers, journalists, companies and nonprofits addressing the key water challenges of the 21st century.

The winner of the $50,000 first prize is the "Iron-amended Biosand Water Filter in Nepal" developed by Tommy Ngai, Director, Research Learning at the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST). Ngai's project modifies conventional Biosand Filters with iron particles to remove all three classes of water contaminants, including viruses, and bring safe drinking water to two impoverished rural villages in Nepal. Over a period of two years 150 filters will be installed, and CAWST will update its educational material and hold workshops to promote the technology. The project will target over 1,000 people in the two villages and has the potential to be scaled to help millions over the next 10 years.

Tommy Ngai, Director of Research Learning, CAWST, said: "CAWST is very pleased that Reed Elsevier recognizes the treatment of water in the home as one of the proven options to provide safe drinking water for Nepal, especially in rural villages. The Biosand filter has great potential to become widely and sustainably used for improving water quality to reduce waterborne disease and death."

The $25,000 second prize was awarded to "Sustainable Sanitation in Urban Slums of Africa" developed by Lindsay Stradley of Sanergy. The project will expand a pilot project in Nairobi to ensure that hygienic sanitation becomes accessible and affordable through a network of small-scale, high-quality sanitation centres close to homes. In Kenya 8.5m people live in slums with 80 per cent of the communities lacking access to adequate sanitation. Sanergy toilets are franchised to local entrepreneurs and stimulate the local economy by turning waste into products--organic fertilizer sold to farms, and electricity sold to the national grid. The prize money will be used to expand the current pilot project in Nairobi.

"We are thrilled to be recognized by the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge. The Reed Elsevier brand and expertise in science and technology lends credibility to our work in building out sustainable sanitation in urban slums," said Lindsay Stradley, Sanergy.

Chosen from a shortlist of five candidates and 140 original applicants, the winning projects were considered replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative; emphasizing solutions with practical applicability. The Challenge's distinguished panel of judges consisted of 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; and Professor Gang Pan, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Both projects will be featured in the Elsevier Journal of Water Research.

Youngsuk ("YS") Chi, Director, Corporate Affairs, Reed Elsevier, remarked: "The two winning projects embody the innovative but practical and scalable solutions prioritized by the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge. Our Challenge is a tangible demonstration that the dissemination of research, knowledge and ideas can be a powerful force for improving health and quality of life."

According to the World Health Organisation, lack of water to meet daily needs is a reality for one in three people around the world. Poor access to safe water contributes to health crises in many developing countries, and increasingly leads to violent conflict. The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge contributes to the Water for Life Decade, established by the UN General Assembly, running between 2005 and 2015, in support of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water and to stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources.


Notes for editors

The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge winners will be available for interviews during the week of 27 August at World Water Week. Please contact Ylann Schemm for further information:

To find out more about the Challenge, visit the Environmental Challenge website or

Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge first place winner - Tommy Ngai, Director, Research Learning for the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)

Iron-amended Biosand Water Filter for Millions of People in Nepal and Around the World

The project modifies a traditional Biosand Filter, which effectively strains large pathogens, by adding iron particles in order to remove viruses that previously remained in the filtered water. Rural villages in Nepal are greatly affected by water-borne diseases; this inexpensive project using local materials aims to help by installing 150 amended filters in two such villages that currently get their water from open springs. The project will especially target 1,000 of the most vulnerable people in the communities and provide health, environment, gender, and hygiene education workshops for the local community.

CAWST, based in Calgary, Canada, will be partnering with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), who developed the technology, and with Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), a well-established and respected local NGO to disseminate the iron-amended Biosand Filters. The hope is that within 10 years, the technology can be adopted by and help millions of people worldwide. CAWST will facilitate this by disseminating anything learned from the project through its global network.

Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge second place winner - Lindsay Stradley, Sanergy

Sustainable Sanitation in Urban Slums of Africa

The project focuses on sustainable sanitation in the slums of Kenya, where 80 per cent of the population lacks access to adequate sanitation. Sanergy develops a dense network of small-scale but high-quality sanitation centres in slums. Each toilet is run by a local entrepreneur, with a training and support system in place. Waste cartridges are collected daily by Sanergy staff, and the waste is then converted into organic fertilizer and electricity. The prize money will be used to expand the pilot project, hopefully to 250 toilets in Nairobi by the end of 2012, and demonstrate the viability of the model across the entire value chain.

The project takes a systems-based approach with the issue, building out the entire sanitation value chain. It not only addresses the environmental and health impacts of poor sanitation, but seeks to boost the local economy as well. It also involves a range of stakeholders, including local residents, manufacturers, NGOs and the city council. Sanergy itself is well embedded in the local environment - 80 per cent of the team is Kenyan.

About Reed Elsevier

Reed Elsevier Group plc is a world leading provider of professional information solutions to the science, medical, legal, risk management, and business to business sectors. The group employs more than 30,000 people, including 16,000 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 at the end of June 2012 was £11bn/€14bn. 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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