The Stone Family Foundation Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water has been awarded to Dispensers for Safe Water in Kenya (DSW). The project provides free access to chlorine at communal water points. It has already reached approximately 424,000 people across over 800 villages. The prize will support DSW’s efforts to produce and deploy 3,000 new chlorine dispensers, enough to provide safe drinking water to over 600,000 people.
Over 170 projects from 37 different countries applied for the £100,000 prize, which is administered by NPC, the charity think tank and consultancy dedicated to maximizing impact. An expert panel selected a shortlist of projects, which were then visited by John Stone, Founder of the Stone Family Foundation, who chose Dispensers for Safe Water as the winner.
Unsafe drinking water is a leading cause of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid, which are responsible for 1.9 million child deaths each year. Treating drinking water with a dilute chlorine solution can help to cut child diarrhoea by an average of 41%, which has allowed DSW to avert over 61,000 diarrhoea episodes in young children since October 2009. The project has developed a low cost way to dispense chlorine at water points such as boreholes and wells—at scale, it is estimated it will cost just $0.50 per person to use the dispenser for an entire year.
Dispensers for Safe Water, an initiative being incubated within Innovations for Poverty Action, impressed the judges with an effective approach based on rigorous evidence, and provisions to ensure that the chlorine is easy to access and free to consumers at the point of delivery. The expert panel was also attracted to the project’s innovative plans for a sustainable funding model, which include accessing carbon credits. Carbon credits are generated because chlorination enables people to drink clean water without having to boil it, and burning of wood during boiling releases carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. DSW will establish a new, financially-sustainable social enterprise where carbon credits will be sold to entities for offsetting their carbon footprint. Revenue earned will be reinvested into maintaining and expanding the Chlorine Dispenser System program.
John Stone, Founder of the Stone Family Foundation, said:
‘This is the first time we have run the prize and it has been an eye-opening experience to see how many fantastic projects there are all over the world, developing ground breaking and sustainable approaches to enabling access to safe drinking water.
‘Dispensers for Safe Water really stood out to me for being unique in its approach to providing safe drinking water in an area of rural Africa where poor water quality is a major cause of potentially fatal illnesses such as diarrhoea and typhoid. I was impressed by the dynamic and enthusiastic team behind the project and am delighted that the money from this prize will enable them to take their work forward and scale it up.’
Eric Kouskalis, Kenya Program Director at Dispensers for Safe Water, said:
‘We are delighted to have been awarded the Stone Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water. With this support from the Stone Family Foundation, we will be able to expand the Chlorine Dispenser System to hundreds of thousands of additional people in need of safe water.
‘Most importantly, the Stone Prize will allow us to continue demonstrating the tremendous potential for scale of this high-impact, cost-effective model for providing critical access to treated water.’
Four other organisations were highly commended by the Stone Family Foundation:
- Spring Health, Rural water kiosks, India; social enterprise marketing clean water which has been purified using low-cost electro-chlorination technology.
- Aquaya Institute, Water Business Kits, Kenya; project looking to develop a market in independent and self-sustaining small-scale businesses to purify and sell clean water.
- Next Drop, Information on piped water supply, India; helping to overcome the unpredictability of household water supply this service which texts users 30-60 minutes before water becomes available in their home.
- Population Services International (PSI), Sanosil Water Disinfectant, Myanmar: initiative has introduced Sanosil, a new tasteless and odourless water disinfectant, as a substitute for chlorine, which had proved unpopular with households in Myanmar.
The Foundation is now looking at how it can support these projects outside the prize framework, for example, through social investment.