Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge Shortlist Announced

Four projects bring water to communities in need

London, 1 March, 2011 - The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge shortlist was announced today, highlighting four innovative ideas to improve access to safe and sustainable water supply in communities where access is presently at risk. The winning project, to be announced in June, will receive a prize of $50,000, with a second place prize of $25,000. 

The projects range from a community rooftop rainwater harvesting system for villages in Rajasthan, India and arsenic removal in ground-sourced drinking water in Cambodia, to low-resource chlorine generation to purify water in Kenyan schools and the application of solar energy water purification technology in Mozambique.

Projects were evaluated on the degree to which they are replicable, scalable, sustainable, and innovative; emphasise solutions with practical applicability; address non-discrimination/equality of access from a scientific, legal or other basis; involve a range of stakeholders and local communities.

Candidates will be given access to relevant Reed Elsevier products like the Journal of Water Research to help them refine their proposals before making presentations to the jury in May. The jury consists of Professor András Szöllösi-Nagy, Rector, UNESCO-IHE; 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; Dr. Jean Rogers, Leader of Arup’s Americas Sustainability Practice; and Robyn Stein, Director of ENS in South Africa. Winning entries will be highlighted in Water Research.

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.

Dr. Márcia Balisciano, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Reed Elsevier said, "the shortlisted applications in the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge combine technology, local level engagement, and real passion to improve access to safe and sustainable water in at-risk communities in four parts of the world. It is exciting to utilise our networks and expertise to bring attention to their important work.”

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

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About the Four Projects Shortlisted in The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge
The first shortlisted project, from candidate Pratibha Shenoy/Sustainable Innovations Inc, proposes a community rooftop rainwater harvesting system for villages in Rajasthan, India. Because water supply there is dependent on the monsoon, which accounts for 80% of yearly rainfall, delayed onset can have catastrophic consequences for the domestic water supply and the larger economy. The project centres on the collection and underwater storage of rooftop rainwater at a village level. If successful, prize money will contribute to construction of a 10,000 m2 rainwater harvesting park that will yield an estimated 40 liters of drinking water per capita per day, all year round.

The second shortlisted project, from candidate Sudipta Sarkar/Tagore-SenGupta Foundation, focuses on arsenic removal in ground-sourced drinking water in Cambodia. Many people living in the Mekong river floodplains in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos use water contaminated with arsenic at concentrations typically over 20 times the safe limit prescribed by the World Health Organization. The project is based on an arsenic groundwater removal system using locally available chemical compounds and reusable sand filters. Ground water is pumped into an overhead tank, chemically stabilised, filtered using reusable arsenic-selective adsorbents, and converted into stable sludge/solids for safe long-term storage. Twelve community-level arsenic removal units would be installed in remote villages and schools in Cambodia.

The third shortlisted project, from candidate Jenna Forsyth, offers low-resource chlorine generation to purify water in Kenyan schools. Diarrheal disease caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation is a problem in the Nyanza province of western Kenya, one of the poorest regions in the country. The project, in partnership with the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, will pilot a prototype chlorine generator in schools that uses salt, water, and battery power to generate chlorine for water disinfection, with one battery charge able to produce 40,000 liters of safe water. Educational materials would be developed to help scale the programme in the future.

The fourth shortlisted project, from candidate Boris Atanassov/Greenlight, applies solar energy-based water purification technology in Mozambique. As few as 32% of the population have access to adequate sanitation and just 43% to clean water, and the practice of boiling water using inefficient biomass fuel systems brings further health impacts and contributes to deforestation and CO2 emissions. The project will utilize a water purification system, developed by Solvatten in Sweden, to purify water through solar energy. Two regions, one urban and one rural, suffering from severe water-quality problems will be chosen in the pilot which aims to reach 500 communities. 

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