Awarding scalable business ideas in WASH

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During World Water Week in Stockholm, for the fourth time in a row, Reed Elsevier organised the Environmental Challenge – a challenge that awards the three most innovative, sustainable and scalable business ideas in WASH. We are proud to be a partner of the Environmental Challenge for the second time this year. Especially because we share Reed Elsevier’s vision that more business approaches need to be developed to scale up WASH and meet the needs of a growing population. Besides taking part in the expert panel of external judges, we have awarded the third prize of $15.000 during the award ceremony at World Water Week.

The WASH Alliance prize was awarded to the Stanford Program on Water, Health and Development. Researchers have designed a community-scale, fully automated chlorine dosing device for shared water points in low-income urban settings that requires neither reliable electricity nor 24/7 supply to function consistently. Support from the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge will allow them to be able to construct, install and maintain 150 devices serving 10,000 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These installation sites will be used to evaluate health impacts and test the viability of different potential business models.

The $50,000 first prize winner is Sustainable Sanitation Design. They have developed a unisex urinal – a sanitation service product serving both urban users and farmers through the collection of safe and cheap organic fertilisers. Prize money would allow production of the first 10,000 units for residents of urban slums in Kampala, Uganda. The income created through the value chain will be sufficient to keep the project moving and be replicated in different parts of the world.

The $25,000 second prize winner is Ecofiltro S.A, a private social enterprise company. They are looking to develop and commercialise a new type of household water treatment and safe storage system using a ceramic disk filter – a simple, effective and affordable treatment. Their short-term goal (within three years) is to “reach scale” in Guatemala by supplying 1m people with the filter, especially in low-income Mayan Indian communities who suffer the most from contaminated water supplies. In the long term, the goal is to expand to all of Central America, partnering with local distributors and NGOs.

To learn more about the challenge, please visit the Environmental Challenge website.