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The Future Technologies for Water Competition

25 June 2014 12:34 (America/New_York)

The Future Technologies for Water Competition (FTW) aims to identify breakthrough technologies for safe water with a sustainable business plan with wide-scale applicability. The first-place winner will receive $15,000, and the second place winner will receive $5,000. 

The first-place winner will receive $15,000, and the second-place winner will receive $5,000.

From June 9 until July 31, we will be accepting initial entries in the form of a one-page summary, via the competition website.

Entries should relate to the following themes:

  • Shortening the water cycle by looking at grey water and/or wastewater reuse
  • Rapid testing of water samples with an emphasis on in situ, online testing
  • Protecting vulnerable and sensitive populations (e.g. young, elderly, immunocompromised)

The Future Technologies for Water competition is managed by the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and sponsored by Takata Corporation.

Visit the competition website, or email ftw@unc.edu for more information.

Have a Thirst for Knowledge? Introducing the Drinkable Book

16 June 2014 16:59 (America/New_York)

Have a Thirst for Knowledge? Introducing the Drinkable Book | Source: InnovateDevelopment.org, June 11, 2014.

An estimated 3.4 million people die annually from preventable water-borne diseases, and many aren’t aware that their drinking water is contaminated. Water filter technology has come a long way in recent years, but most options are still restrictively expensive for use in the Global South or unsuitable for mass distribution. Enter the Drinkable Book.

Developed by chemist Dr. Thersa Dankovick of the University of Virginia and McGill University, the drinkable book seeks to provide both cheap, clean drinking water and information on healthy sanitation practices. After ad agency DDB heard about Dr. Dankovich’s project and put her in touch with another of their clients, the NGO Water is Life. Together they developed the final product and are working to distribute the book through their programs. According to NPR, Dr. Dankovich tested the product in South Africa in 2013 and is planning further field trials in Ghana later in 2014.

Crucially, the book costs just pennies to produce, making it far cheaper than alternative systems. Each page provides an individual with clean water for a month, and a book can last over a year. It filters over 99.9% of bacteria, making it as clean as tap water in the United States. It filters out cholera, typhoid, and e. coli, as well as larger pollutants and debris.

The pages are about a millimeter thick and work like a high-tech coffee filter using silver nanoparticles. Silver causes interacting microbes to die, but has very little effect on people. Using the book is easy: simply tear our a perforated page, slide it into the included case, and pour contaminated water through it. With no other steps, the water is ready to drink safely.

The silver turns the paper a burnt orange, making it eye-catching and distinct from other books. Information is printed on each page explaining safe water habits, like keeping trash and feces away from water sources and the benefits of regular hand washing. The information is currently being printed in English and Swahili using non-toxic food-grade ink.

Using English and Swahili is a great step in accessibility, however it does restrict illiterate users or those who speak other languages or dialects. Hopefully as the project gains traction other languages can be incorporated, including Braille and non-verbal graphical systems. It is currently unclear how users know when each page is past its usefulness, though hopefully this will be incorporated into future designs.

The book is also not suited for emergency or conflict zones that may require residents to move often. The soft material makes susceptible to wear and damage, and it is bulky to carry. However, Water is Life also uses an amazing straw that picks up where the drinkable book leaves off.

For more information on the book and how to provide one for a community in need, check out the Water is Life website (specifically the blog) or this article from NPR.

A Simple Yet Brilliant $1.50 Sanitation Idea

19 May 2014 10:45 (America/New_York)

A Simple Yet Brilliant $1.50 Sanitation Idea - Made by the toilet manufacturer American Standard, this “trap door” seals off open pit latrines that are a major source of disease in the developing world.

This article discusses a sanitation solution by bathroom and kitchen fixture company American Standard. Funded by the  Gates Foundation, American Standard has developed a $1.50 latrine pan that cuts down on sanitation-related disease transmission by sealing off pit toilets. 

The $1.50 pan has been a hit in field trials in Bangladesh; in addition to being more sanitary, the pan also blocks off nasty smells from the latrine. While American Standard hoped to get the price down to a $1, McHale still believes the product is affordable.

So far, American Standard has sold close to 70,000 units in Bangladesh, and in 2013, the company donated 533,352 of the pans for distribution this year. The company is now thinking about how to launch the product in India. It’s also working on a design for Africa that uses less water.

Kenya Water Sector Innovator Leads the Way with Commercial Financing

22 April 2014 10:34 (America/New_York)

Kenya Water Sector Innovator Leads the Way with Commercial Financing | Source: USAID SUWASA, Apr 2014.

Excerpt:  This post describes an innovative financing deal, facilitated by USAID’s Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA), which is enabling a local water utility to access finance to install 23 kilometers of pipeline and provide water to more than 75,000 low-income residents in Embu, Kenya.Embu Water and Sanitation Company (EWASCO), under the leadership of its Managing Director Harim Karugendo, secured US$945,000 in commercial financing from Housing Finance for the work. 

The bank is backed by a guarantee from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Development Credit Authority, and the project is supported by an Aid on Delivery grant from the Kenyan Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF), funded by the German development bank KfW.

  • Read the complete article here.

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The information provided on this web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.