Water Research

Winner of Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge creates eco-friendly unisex urinal

Prizes awarded for innovative water and sanitation solutions for the developing world

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The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. This year's winning organizations developed a unisex urinal that collects waste to recycle for fertilizer in Uganda, and a low-cost household water filter to help prevent diarrhea in Guatemala.

The $50,000 first and $25,000 second prize winners were announced today during World Water Week in Stockholm, with the top prize going to Sustainable Sanitation Design and the second prize to Ecofiltro, SA.

In addition, a WASH Alliance prize of $15,000 will be given to the third place finisher, the Stanford University Program on Water, Health and Development, which developed an automated chlorination system to help prevent disease in Bangladesh. The WASH Alliance is a consortium of six Dutch NGOs promoting hygienic use of sustainable water and sanitation.

The three winners will also receive up to $2,500 for relevant training and professional development. Team members will also get a year of free access to ScienceDirect, Elsevier's database of full text, scientific information, including almost 230,000 articles since 2000 in Environmental Sciences.

The winning projects will be featured in the Elsevier journal Water Research.

They were chosen from nearly 150 applicants; criteria included being "replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative, emphasizing solutions with practical applicability."

First-place winner's unisex urinal enables value-creating sanitation in Uganda

Urine has become a trading commodity in Uganda. In SuSan's program, it is collected, treated, and then sold as organic fertilizer. (Photo by Sustainable Sanitation Design)The $50,000 first prize winner is Sustainable Sanitation Design , which developed a unisex urinal that will benefit both urban users and farmers.

Over 1 billion people live in urban slums without access to sanitation facilities. SuSan Design's unisex urinal concept was developed through an inclusive design process with women in a slum in Kampala, Uganda. It provides a low-cost urinal for the home that gives users privacy, collects nutrients for fertilizer and reduces local pollution.

Prize money will enable the project to provide unisex urinals to 10,000 households. The urine will be collected and sold as natural fertilizer for local agriculture and to the flower production companies just outside Kampala. The income created will be sufficient to keep the project moving so it can be replicated in different parts of the world.

Second-place winner creates filter for household water treatment in Guatemala

The $25,000 second prize winner is Ecofiltro, which is planning to develop and commercialize a new type of household water treatment and safe storage system using a ceramic disk filter — a practical, effective and affordable technology that provides a "protective" level of treatment for protozoa, bacteria and virus removal.

A systematic review of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions commissioned by the World Bank suggests that improving household drinking water quality at the point of use is more effective in reducing diarrheal disease risks (by 30 percent to 40 percent) than improvements at the source. Ecofiltro manufactures and sells ceramic pot filters to both urban and rural customers in Guatemala.

Their short-term goal, to be completed within three years, is to "reach scale" in Guatemala by supplying 1 million people with the filter, especially in low-income Mayan Indian communities, whose residents suffer from the most from contaminated water supplies. Their long-term goal is to expand to all of Central America, partnering with local distributors and NGOs.

WASH Alliance winner to enable automated chlorination of drinking water in urban slums of Bangladesh

The WASH Alliance prize of $15,000 was awarded to the Stanford University Program on Water, Health and Development for its Lotus Water project. Researchers designed a community-scale, fully automated chlorine dosing device for shared water points in low-income urban settings that can function consistently without reliable electricity or a 24/7 supply. The prize money will enable them to construct, install and maintain 150 devices serving 10,000 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh, who will access disinfected water as a result of the technology. These installation sites will be used to evaluate health impacts and test the viability of different potential business models.

More than 90 per cent of households in the slums of Dhaka are served through public taps or handpumps connected to the municipal water system, commonly shared by 10 to 100 households. The Stanford team conducted a survey of shared water points in Dhaka slums and found that 98 percent are contaminated. Their product offers reliable chlorine dosing while remaining low-cost; it can be easily integrated into existing handpumps, and is designed to dose water accurately even under variable and intermittent flow.

The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge

Reed Elsevier Environmental ChallengeThe Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge was launched in 2011 to contribute to the Water for Life Decade (2005-2015), established by the UN General Assembly between to reduce by half the world's population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.To learn more, visit the Environmental Challenge website. You can see videos of previous winning projects here, and details on Reed Elsevier's corporate responsibility program here.

Reed Elsevier is Elsevier's parent company.

2014 Judging Panel

This year, the challenge's distinguished panel of judges included Dr Sarah Bell, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering, University College London; Professor Mark van Loosdrecht, Department of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology; Dr Prasad Modak, Executive President of India's Environmental Management Centre; Professor Gang Pan, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Engineer Hanny Maas, Programme Manager of the Dutch WASH Alliance.

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Elsevier Connect Contributor

Emmy StevensEmmy Stevens, Corporate Responsibility Associate for Reed Elsevier, manages the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge. She is based in London.

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