Combating the Water Crisis with Social Innovation
About 4 billion people, representing nearly two-thirds of the global population, experience severe water scarcity for at least one month of the year1. We’re facing a global water crisis, which affects especially vulnerable countries in the Global South. The Bayer Social Innovation Award sought the most innovative social entrepreneurs working to provide people in need with access to drinking water and sanitation. 110 social innovators from 40 countries applied for this challenge – and after different selection stages, 12 finalists and their solutions were chosen. We are proud to present the four final winners from Chile, Mexico, Uganda and Indonesia.
Water from the Air: FreshWater Solution from Chile
34 million Latin Americans don’t have access to quality water, which greatly increases the chance of illness due to unsafe hand washing practices, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating safe water from the air, a renewable water source, is the mission of FreshWater Solutions from Chile. Their water-purification solution captures the microparticles of water suspended in relative humidity. Located in rural, suburban, and urban areas, their fountains aim to improve the habitability, quality of life, and health of communities without altering the environment. By creating water from air, households could save 82% in monthly water costs. In addition, a constant water source showed a 28% increase in children’s school attendance due to a decrease of waterborne diseases.
Treating Water for Better Sanitation: CPlantae from Mexico
Over 22 million Mexican people lack access to any kind of sewage infrastructure. Additionally, 80% of aquatic ecosystems within Mexico are contaminated. This follows a trend with the rest of Latin America, where only 20% of used water is treated. CPlantae’s so-called “Wormpod” treats wastewater with the help of worms and plants to prevent nutrient and methane pollution. The "Wormpod" mimics the conditions of a rainforest soil: every day, their systems and installations clean up to 250,000 litres of wastewater. Furthermore, they focus on youth employment and providing young Mexicans with skills around environmental protection.
Purifying Drinking Water with the Help of Moringa Trees: Tusafishe from Uganda
Poor sanitation and a lack of safe water can cause water-borne diseases. 92% of the rural Uganda population does not have access to purified water, instead dependant on unreliable boiling methods. Tusafishe creates low-cost filtration systems for rural communities using locally available materials. The filtration works with moringa trees, using their seeds for the cleaning process. Tusafishe is also initiating the planting of the moringa trees which ensures a circular economy. Additionally, women are trained in how to use the filters appropriately and how to plant the trees. So far, 58 municipal filters have been installed, and 2,320 women have been trained. Almost 100,000 people now receive clean drinking water every day, and the number of illnesses in the population has been greatly reduced.
Safe Drinking Water at Home: Nazava Water Filters from Indonesia
Having a constant and safe source for drinking water in your home is a luxury in global south countries, especially Indonesia. Consumption of contaminated water leads to several health problems caused by waterborne diseases, ranging from developmental issues in children to diarrhea, to death. Nazava produces low-cost water filtration and purification filter solutions (Nazava Murni). The Murni provides a convenient way to obtain safe drinking water at a much lower cost than its bottled counterparts. The filter provides an ecological alternative to boiling water, which lowers potential CO2 emissions. So far, Nazava employs 66 women as resellers who earn an average additional monthly income through distributing Nazava water filters.
About the Bayer Social Innovation Award
The Bayer Social Innovation Award recognizes social impact entrepreneurs and startups. Together with the global startup competition “Get in the Ring”, we looked for innovative solutions to change the course of the water crisis and create lasting social impact in Latin America, Africa & Middle East, or Asia Pacific. The best social innovators had the chance to showcase their water solution and win an award of €35,000. The startup finalists will benefit from the network, knowledge, and exposure of partnering with Bayer and Get in the Ring.