By Paul Berg, on Nov. 10, 2022
We are pleased to report that the Water Box Volunteers were awarded a $30,000 grant from Clearer Thinking. The award not only allows us to continue with our forward momentum, but is also a big encouragement, as ours was one of only 22 out of 640 applicants to be selected.
We plan to use the grant to accomplish three tasks:
- Upgrade the circuitry to enable the timing mechanism to function more reliably
- Conduct another round of challenge testing to confirm the treatment performance when using the hand-crank
- Conduct another round of field testing in Uganda after upgrading the 29 water boxes by replacing their circuit boards with the new design
Clearer Thinking indicted that a decisive factor in their award was recognition boiling drinking water is a major contributor to indoor air pollution. See the following excerpt from Clearer Thinking’s post.
3. We hadn’t previously considered the extent to which the use of boiling as a water treatment method in low- and middle-income countries contributes to indoor air pollution (and, therefore, to potentially negative health outcomes).
For populations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) who don’t have reliable access to safe drinking water, the most common household water treatment method appears to be boiling (Rosa & Thomas, 2010). Furthermore, this is often done using solid fuels, which contributes significantly to indoor air pollution (Cohen et al., 2020). We knew that indoor air pollution contributes to morbidity and mortality, and among other things, this may negatively impact neurodevelopment (Rees, 2017), but we had not previously considered that the practice of boiling water could therefore be a significant health hazard due to the fuels used to heat the water.
All these pieces of information became decision-relevant for us when we were evaluating an invention (called “Water Box 2.0”) that was proposed as one possible water treatment method that could replace boiling (though it’s not the first time a replacement has been proposed). Water Box 2.0 has been undergoing user testing in households that currently boil all their drinking water.