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News | Basics Needs & Social Entrepreneurship 22.03.2013
Drinking water and education generate income
The Siemens Stiftung is supporting drinking water projects in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Kenya designed to ensure access to clean drinking water while providing new opportunities for income and education. One such project implements water kiosks that sell filtered drinking water to the local population for a modest fee. The proceeds provide a salary for the kiosk manager and allow the water filters to be maintained. The communities also receive health and hygiene instruction. A new water kiosk was recently opened near La Paz, Bolivia, as part of a joint effort with partner organization SwissContact, and in Kenya there are already five kiosks in the region around Thika.
All the projects are implemented in close cooperation with partners and adapted to the unique needs of the local communities. What they have in common is a reliance on water filtration technology, a focus on education and financial sustainability.
Technology is part of the solution. We work with customized, low-maintenance water filters to bring contaminated water up to drinking standards. We have primarily used the membrane filters supplied by Australia’s SkyJuice Foundation, which remove all bacteria and viruses from up to 1,000 liters of water per hour while requiring no electricity and only minimal maintenance.
Education campaigns are key to changing the behavior of children and adults when it comes to hygiene and nutrition. The communities already have access to sensitization programs, and these activities will be expanded whilst going forward. The kiosk manager is also trained in health, technology, finance, bookkeeping, and marketing.
It is also important that the projects are financially sustainable. The micro-businesses are designed from the start to become self-supporting over the medium term and not rely on donations. Close cooperation with the communities is critical here as well. The local population – as water kiosk customers – will care about quality, price, and reliability, after all. Evaluations of the water kiosks and how they are used are conducted to improve acceptance. One result of this process is that the kiosks now offer cleaned plastic containers to preserve the quality of the water during transport. Improvements to the buildings were also made: Prefabricated modules allow quick and secure setup but are still flexible enough to be moved to another site when the water situation changes.
Partnerships with other organizations at the local and international level are a cornerstone of all our projects. This bundles expertise, networks, and resources for a concerted and effective approach to ensuring access to safe drinking water.
The Siemens Stiftung is currently involved in the following water projects:
- Bolivia, La Paz drainage basin, community of Achocalla: A water kiosk has provided the community here with clean drinking water since the beginning of the year. To help the overall economic situation, the Siemens Stiftung has supported the production of clay filters that can now be used at the household level.
- Kenya: Water kiosks ensure access to clean drinking water in five villages around Thika. Other stations are to be built in the coming year in partnership with the SkyJuice Foundation.
- Colombia: Our Colombian partner foundation Siemens Fundación Colombia has been working with the local NGO Fundación EPM on supplying water to some 40 schools.
- Peru: The Siemens Stiftung has worked alongside the “Instituto para una Alternativa Agraria - IAA” on the Sierra Productiva project to ensure sustainable development of the indigenous rural population. Water is the key resource here: it is essential that drinking water be stored, allocated, and used efficiently.
- The Siemens Stiftung media portal is currently updating its teaching materials on drinking water and humanitarian aid, which are available in English, German, and Spanish to assist teachers with their classroom presentations.
- The Siemens Stiftung projects are also represented at the UN Global Compact’s Water Action Hub.
Our partner organizations
ENCOURAGE. empowering people. The Siemens Stiftung wants to empower people to actively address today’s social challenges and is dedicated to the values of Werner von Siemens. Together with cooperation partners, the foundation designs and implements local and international projects with the aim to promote individual responsibility and self-initiative. The foundation is committed to enlarging basic services and social entrepreneurship, promoting education and strengthening of culture. The Siemens Stiftung pursues an integrative approach and stands for responsible, impact-oriented and innovative project work.