Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge Winners Announced

Two projects bring water to communities in need

London, 1 June 2011 – The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge aims to encourage innovative ideas that improve access to safe and sustainable water supply for communities where it is presently at risk.

The winner of the $50,000 first prize, announced today, is Tagore-SenGupta Foundation. Their project involves installation of twelve community-level arsenic removal units in remote villages and schools in Cambodia where arsenic groundwater contamination is rife. The technology, which has been tested in India, will provide local employment in the construction and installation of units and in the caretaking phase of the project. The arsenic removal units use regenerable adsorbents and do not require electricity or costly maintenance.

Second prize of $25,000 is awarded to Jenna Forsyth, whose project focuses on low-resource chlorine generation to address unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation in the Nyanza province of western Kenya, one of the poorest regions in the country. In partnership with the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, the school-based pilot involves a prototype chlorine generator using salt, water, and battery power to generate chlorine for water disinfection. On a single battery charge, the device can run for 200 cycles, generating 40,000 litres of clean water.

The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge was open between July and October 2010. Registrants were provided access to relevant Reed Elsevier products and services. Four short-listed candidates were also given Reed Elsevier product access to help them refine their proposals before making presentations to the jury in May.

The jury consisted of Professor András Szöllösi-Nagy, Rector, UNESCO-IHE; Dr. Prasad Modak, Executive President, of India’s Environmental Management Centre; 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.

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

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 two winning projects fulfill the aim of the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge to provide clean and sustainable water to communities in need and, because they are scalable, the benefits can be widely dispersed. The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge is a tangible example of how we aim to use our networks and expertise to facilitate the exchange and dissemination of information to benefit society.”

The two winning projects will be featured in the Reed Elsevier journal Water Research, and will be celebrated at a reception on 24 August in Stockholm, Sweden during World Water Week. To find out more visit the Environmental Challenge website or email Environmental.Challenge@reedelsevier.com.
 

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Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge first place winner – Tagore-SenGupta Foundation

Sustainable Treatment of Contaminated Groundwater in Cambodia: Turning a Crisis into an Economic Enterprise

The project 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 involves 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 are to be installed in remote villages and schools in Cambodia.

The project, using locally available raw materials, will complement traditional methods of water collection and costs will be shared by users. Environmental sustainability is addressed through the careful containment and storage of the arsenic removed from the contaminated water to ensure it does not leach into the environment. Socio-economic sustainability will be addressed through the formation and functioning of community water councils to ensure efficient operation and upkeep of the units. The Tagore-SenGupta Foundation, based in Pennsylvania, will be partnering with Cambodian NGO, This Life Cambodia, and Lehigh University.

Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge second place winner – Jenna Forsyth

Improving access to safe water and empowering students and communities through a scalable school-based water treatment and education programme in Kenya

The project developed by Jenna Forsyth, a student at the University of Washington, aims to develop a scalable school water treatment and education programme in the Nyanza province of western Kenya. The Smart Electrochlorinator 200, developed with Cascade Designs and Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, utilises locally available salt and battery or solar power to generate enough chlorine-based disinfectant solution per six minute cycle to treat 200 litres of water. The pilot, concentrating on three schools initially, will involve creation of school water clubs to increase knowledge of basic water, sanitation, and hygiene among students, teachers, and parents.

The project will engage a range of other stakeholders including community health workers, village leaders, and officials from the Kenyan Ministries of Education, Water, and Public Health. A project leader from each school will be trained to conduct regular sampling to ensure the water meets WHO standards for water quality.

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