This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
A billion people live without a safe water supply. Two and a half billion, or more than forty percent of all people, have no place to use a safe toilet. Recently on the Internet there was a competition to look for creative local solutions to water and sanitation needs.
Two organizations, Ashoka’s Changemakers and Global Water Challenge, organized the worldwide search. Global Water Challenge is a coalition of twenty-two groups working for change in water and sanitation.
Ashoka is a group for social entrepreneurs, people who look for creative solutions to social problems. Its Changemakers.net Web site is an online community where competitions are held. Anyone can vote or provide ideas and resources.
The search for water and sanitation projects received more than two hundred fifty proposals from fifty-four countries. Judges chose nine finalists in April. Then, visitors to the site voted for three winners. All three are from India. Each will receive five thousand dollars from Global Water Challenge.
Himanshu Parikh Consulting Engineers won for a sanitation project called Slum Networking. It involves looking for natural solutions like gravity-based, house-to-house water and sanitation connections in poor areas.
The project began in the cities of Indore, Baroda, Ahmedabad and Bhopal. Now the aim is to extend it to rural areas.
The Naandi Foundation won for a project for safe drinking water in two states, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. Villagers get clean water at purification centers. Then they sell the bottled water within their communities for small amounts of money.
The third winner is a group leading a sanitation project in Maharashtra and Gujarat states. Swayam Shikshan Prayog works with local governments and women’s groups to change local behaviors and improve sanitation.
Tanvi Nagpal heads the water and sanitation program at Global Water Challenge. She says the Coca Cola Company has given one million dollars to expand several of the proposals in the competition.
This was the first time Global Water Challenge has been involved in an online search. Tanvi Nagpal says the organization may hold another competition in the coming years to look for other inventive ideas.
And that’s the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.