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2015 RELX Group Environmental Challenge Winners Announced

According to the World Health Organisation, at least 1.8 billion people globally use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas. 2.4 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. The RELX Group Environmental Challenge is one way in which we can help address these issues.

The 2015 Environmental Challenge winners were announced at World Water Week in Stockholm this week. The Environmental Challenge is awarded to projects that best demonstrate how they can provide sustainable access to safe water where it is presently at risk and/or access to improved sanitation. Projects must have clear practical applicability, address identified need, and advance related issues such as health, education, or human rights. The winning project teams will get free access for one year to ScienceDirect, Elsevier’s database of full text, scientific information, including 367,000 articles in environmental science.

The $50,000 first prize winner is Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation (AIDFI), a Philippines-based social enterprise that provides reliable drinking water to upland rural areas using a unique hydraulic ram pump. Made from locally-sourced materials, the pump uses the pressure of falling water to pump water to villages above a water source, with each pump reaching an average of 600 people. AIDFI has had success in Afghanistan, Colombia, Nepal and the Philippines, assisting some 222,000 people in 370 villages. The prize money will launch a ram pump pilot project in Mexico.

The $25,000 second prize winner is Salino, a project managed by Devlina Das of India’s VIT University. The project will convert sea water into drinking water using a unique five-step method powered by solar energy. Aimed at India’s semi-arid and arid zones, Salino will initially target 50 homes and data from the pilot will be used to scale implementation.

There is excellent coverage of AIDFI's winning project in an article featured in the Guardian's Global development professionals network.