Category Archives: Water resources

Boston experiences water issues that 1 Billion people live with daily

Saturday morning, as families in Boston planned for a gorgeous spring day, a ten foot water pipe, that brought water to over 2 million Boston residents, ruptured.  Over 200 million gallons of water gushed out at a rate of 8 million gallons per hour. Authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a blanket order for homeowners and businesses to boil the untreated water now flowing from their taps. Chaos and panic spread through the populace.  A run on bottled water at stores resulted in scuffles and rumors of price gouging for clean water were rampant. Continue reading

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Ashoka’s “Tapping Youth Innovation Challenge”

Ashoka has launched a youth movement called Ashoka’s Youth Venture (http://genv.net/) to help young people to design and launch their own lasting social ventures. (More on this in a later post). As part of their efforts to spur innovation, they have teamed up with a number of organizations to hold youth oriented social innovation competitions.

The latest one is “Tapping Youth Innovation, a Water Campaign” where they are looking for young innovators’ ideas on how to solve some of the challenges to clean water and sanitation for people living in poverty.  The challenge is accepting entries until March 22, 2009 which coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) happens to be World Water Day!

Here is a blurb about their competition for people who might be interested. Continue reading

Adapting to Climate Change

We have over 80 people registered already for ForSE 2008: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs. Click here to register as we are going to quickly reach the limit of our 180 discounted admissions.

Here is the description of another one of the six tracks

Adapting to Climate Change

Rising global temperatures and erratic local weather patterns are of growing concern all around the world. Scientists worldwide have confirmed the reality of climate change and the impact of humans in increasing Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. International treaties such as the ‘Kyoto Protocol’, state adopted legislations and activities at the local level are focused on acting to mitigate the effects of global warming. By changing policies, processes and habits, these actions may help the general public to gradually reduce the emission of GHGs and thus curb the severity of the impending climate change.

While it is important to mitigate climate change and its impact, positive results will be seen only after several decades. In the meantime, climate change and a rise in global temperatures will continue to occur, with changes in weather, ecology and environment impacting our daily lives on earth. Therefore it is important to adopt two strategies – mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Several entrepreneurial spirits have taken up the challenge and established a creative response to the dilemma of high energy prices, high demand and low supplies concurring with global warming. This track will present an expert panel that will discuss strategies for adaptation to climate change and how social and business entrepreneurs are supporting this effort.

Paul Polak’s Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving

Paul Polak is a physiatrist by training but has spent the past 25 years working to alleviate poverty in the developing world. His non-profit, International Development Enterprises, has come up with innovative low cost technologies that have improved the local livelihood of people at the bottom of the pyramid. For example the simply designed bamboo treadle pump has sold over 1.7 million copies and generated over $1.4 billion in farmer revenue in Bangladesh.

Paul has encapsulated his learnings in a book Out of Poverty that describes a number of these technologies. More recently, Paul has posted an interesting video on You tube that summarizes his Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving.

Some of the observations are commonsense ones but it is remarkable how often people forget them in their eagerness to push technology.

Water and Sanitation – the next global challenge

This week’s column in Lokvani focused on the issues of water and sanitation. Together with food security, this is one of the most pressing issues globally. The root cause to most of the basic issues – health, nutrition, and even education can be traced in some way to water and sanitary, hygienic conditions.

By addressing this basic issue, millions of deaths per year can be prevented. Diarrhea alone kills nearly 2 million people a year, most of them children.

The good news is there is a renewed focus on water and sanitation. International agencies and major governments are putting resources to address this.  Corporations are making it the centerpiece of their efforts more for economic reasons or to assuage local communities when their actions seem to threaten local water resources. A number of NGOs and non-profits are helping create grass roots movements to address sanitation and water problems in the developing world, particularly in the underserved communities.

Here is the text of the article I wrote for Lokvani:

Water and Sanitation – the next global challenge. Raj Melville, Lokvani.com, 06/28/2008

Even as we go about our daily lives in the west knowing that we can duck into a McDonalds to use the loo or grab a bottle of soda to quench our thirst, nearly half the world’s population has to make do without the simplest access to basic sanitation and clean water. The UN estimates over a billion people (or nearly a sixth of the world’s population) manages without clean water. According to the World Health Organization, over 4 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year around the world, 88% of which is attributable to unsafe water or inadequate hygiene or sanitation. Nearly 1.8 million people die of diarrhea each year, the majority of whom are children.

Continue reading