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Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge Shortlists 2012 Projects

Five projects bringing safe water and sanitation in final race for 1st and 2nd prize

The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge shortlist was announced on June 12, highlighting five innovative ideas to provide sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. The winning project will be announced at the end of August at the annual World Water Week in Stockholm and will be featured in the Journal of Water Research. The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge winner will receive a prize of $50,000 with a second place prize of $25,000.

The projects provide a range of accessible and affordable solutions including: hygienic sanitation stations; sand dams to collect rainwater; a sanitation technology competition; iron-reinforced biosand filters; and green energy-transported water. Projects were evaluated by a team of reviewers and a panel of distinguished judges to identify the most replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative solutions with practical applicability and the ability to engage a range of stakeholders and local communities.

Shortlisted candidates will be given access to relevant Reed Elsevier publications such as the Journal of Water Research in order to help them refine their original proposals by mid July. The panel of judges is comprised of academic and industry leaders in the fields of water and sanitation resources: 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; and Dr. Mark van Loosdrecht, Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology. 

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 to support the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water and stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources. The World Health Organisation has indicated that one in three people does not have enough water to meet their daily needs. Poor access to safe water contributes to health crises in many developing countries, and increasingly leads to violent conflict.

Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge

Youngsuk ("YS") Chi, Director, Corporate Affairs, Reed Elsevier, noted: "With the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge we hope to highlight the need for safe and sustainable water solutions for at risk communities. The 2012 shortlisted applications provide a promising mix of applied technologies, local engagement and a drive to make real contributions. We look forward to celebrating the winners at the World Water Week in Stockholm."

The five Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge shortlisted projects are:

   Lindsay Stradley (Sanergy) aims to make hygienic sanitation accessible and affordable for all through a network of small-scale, high-quality sanitation centres close to homes in the slums of Nairobi. In Kenya 8.5m people live in slums with 80 per cent of the slum communities lacking access to adequate sanitation. Sanergy toilets are franchised to local entrepreneurs to stimulate the economy, and the project is made sustainable by turning the waste into products-organic fertilizer that is sold to farms, and electricity which is sold to the national grid. If successful, prize money will expand a pilot project in Nairobi slums by an additional 150 toilets.

   Louise Storey (Excellent Development) proposes the use of sand dams-a simple, low cost and replicable form of rainwater harvesting-for a rural community in Makueni County in Kenya. In the Makeuni County, 57% of households do not have access to a safe water supply. Women and children have to walk long distances during periods of drought to collect water from polluted sources, so there is an urgent need to harvest and effectively store rainwater during erratic downpours for use during periods of drought. The funds will go towards building two sand dams and creating a self-help group to involve the community in the process.

   Tommy Ngai (CAWST) will modify conventional Biosand Filters with iron particles in order to bring safe drinking water to two impoverished rural villages in Nepal. Over two years 150 filters will be installed in the village households, and CAWST will update its education materials and use workshops to promote the technology. The project can help more than 1,000 people in the two villages, and also has the potential to help millions over the next 10 years should the new iron-amended Biosand Filter prove to be a success.

   Marisa Elliott (Mercy Corps) is developing an affordable, sustainable and situation-appropriate waste management system for the extremely dense, poor communities in Jakarta. Indonesia has one of the highest rates of urbanization in the world, which increases the pressure on its sanitation systems-almost 45 per cent of the Indonesian population does not have access to decent sanitation leading to disease. But more innovation is needed in order to make the technology affordable. Mercy Corps will use the funding to launch a targeted design competition to help refine components and reduce the price point of the technology, while building on the business and technology findings from Mercy Corps' past pilot projects.

   Barbara Siembida-Losch (University of Waterloo) will design and implement simplified and sustainable water supply facilities in Laos to provide and treat water locally. The project uses green energy and a chemical-free treatment; it will transport water using a solar energy-based pump, treat the water with a low-cost method that uses Moringa oleifera seeds which can be found locally, and then further disinfects the water using the SODIS method-Solar Water Disinfection. A community of 300 to 400 residents will not only benefit from safe drinking water, but also from an education on waterborne diseases and the reduced time it will take women and children to get the water.

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

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