The United Nations “Water for Life Award” goes this year to the Fundación SODIS in Bolivia. The non-profit organisation, founded in 2001 by staff from Eawag and DEZA, disseminates simple and appropriate solutions with regard to water and waste water in Latin America. Over the past 11 years, Fundación SODIS has educated more than 1.2 million people in the method of solar water disinfection (SODIS), and has meantime expanded its work to other topics such as hygiene and sanitation solutions. The prize will be awarded today, 22 March, on the World Water Day, at a ceremony at the FAO in Rome.
The prize is being awarded to Fundación SODIS for the project “Cambio de hábitos a través del empoderamiento de grupos de mujeres“ (Changing behaviour through the empowerment of women’s groups). This innovative project was undertaken in four communities in the Cochabamba Department in Bolivia, and reached over 13,000 people. The Fundación SODIS educated the women’s groups on a number of topics, such as hygiene and water purification, empowering them to such an extent that they became the real drivers behind local development processes. The results demonstrated that profound improvements to the health situation and behavioural patterns can be achieved through such participative processes. By the end of the project, the number of people treating their water (using the SODIS method, chlorine or boiling) and washing their hands rose from 36% to 89%. The financial backing for the project came from UNICEF Bolivia and from the SOLAQUA Foundation, a private foundation in Switzerland that specifically supports SODIS projects in developing countries.