Helioz joins Business Call to Action with a pledge to make use of green technology for safe drinking water in East Africa
Vienna, Austria, 29 September 2017 – Clean energy company Helioz has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide clean drinking water to 2 million people every day by 2025 with WADI, its solar powered UV-measurement device that indicates when the process of solar water disinfection (SODIS) is completed and the water safe to drink. By that same year, the company aims to save 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions while reducing deforestation and respiratory diseases.
Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than USD 8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
For millions in rural East Africa, accessing clean water is a serious challenge. Many water sources are highly polluted and there is little infrastructure to carry clean water to rural areas. As a result, water-borne diseases are among the leading causes of death – especially among children. Women and young girls, who are most often responsible for accessing and carrying fresh water, are prevented from attending school or working since much of time is spent walking miles for water each day.
Helioz was founded in 2010 to tackle these challenges by providing access to clean and safe drinking water through innovative solar-powered disinfection solutions. Its inclusive business model was developed by founder and CEO Martin Wesian after he caught cholera from drinking contaminated water. He sought to develop a means of water disinfection that could be utilized even in the remotest areas by relying on renewable energy.
After reading about the solar water disinfection (SODIS) and contacting leading scientists on the matter in Zurich, Mr. Wesian realized the need for an accompanying device that would let users know when disinfection was complete. To do so, he acquired a Master’s Degree in industrial engineering – his thesis was on the measurement device he developed, which he named WADI (for WAter DIsinfection). WADI reinforces the SODIS water disinfection process by indicating when the water is safe to drink.
“Helioz works through a range of partnerships to reach remote areas and communities that do not typically benefit from infrastructure projects,” explained Mr. Wessian. “By bringing a combination of frugal innovations like WADI and participatory approaches to people at the base of the pyramid, we are creating sustainable impacts for hundreds of thousands across East Africa.”
With SODIS, the time needed for the sun’s UV radiation to disinfect water can vary from a few hours to more than a day, depending on weather, season and geographic location. WADI was developed to account for this variability: placed next to bottles filled with contaminated water, it serves as an indicator of disinfection by measuring the radiation. Neither the disinfection method SODIS nor WADI device need batteries, filters or chemicals, or emits CO2.
Together, these products have benefitted 100,000 people in Uganda alone. A 2010 article in the Journal of Water and Health reported that in slum areas of Yaounde, Cameroon, diarrhoea prevalence dropped from more than 34 percent among children to 18 percent after introducing SODIS. In addition, the products’ use reduces the need for wood fires to boil water – one of the 10 biggest producers of CO2 emissions. In the process, they are reducing deforestation and the incidence of respiratory diseases.
BCtA Programme Manager Paula Pelaez noted that, “Access to safe drinking water not only reduces health risks, it saves women precious time for education and income generation instead of walking miles to find water each day. And these time savings translate into increase household productivity, which means higher incomes and greater well-being.”
For further information:
BCtA: Aimee Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
Helioz: Gregor Riss at email@example.com
BctA membership does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About Helioz: Founded in 2010, Helioz is an Austria-based social enterprise specializing in the delivery of solar-powered clean water solutions. Its core mission is to provide simple technological solutions for the benefit of poor families. As an active promoter of social justice, the company’s value chain includes local dealers, micro-entrepreneurs and a range of organizations. Helioz has a clear vision that users and customers should be one, and therefore those who use its products should not be treated as beneficiaries of development aid, but as customers. For more information about Helioz and its sustainable products, visit www.helioz.org.