The Need and Mission
In Bangladesh, more than 77 million people have been exposed to contaminated drinking water. In fact, a minimum of 1 in 5 deaths in the country can be attributed to water-related diseases. Of course, this is a global problem; billions of people in countries outside Bangladesh must also drink unsafe water and face the health risks that come with it. This is where we can make a difference. 33 Buckets formed because we believe it is unacceptable that millions of people lack access to such a basic need: clean drinking water. We see a future we can use clean water, education, and an innovative distribution system to inspire and empower people around the world.
Our pilot project is located in rural Bangladesh at the Rahima Hoque Girls College. Over 300 girls attend the school because they and their families believe that education is the path to better their lives and their country. The girls want to get an education so they can pursue their dreams and achieve a better future. Many of the girls are interested in starting their own businesses and eventually giving back to their community and country. However, this education is coming at the expense of the girls' health, because the water at the school is contaminated. Bottled water is available in the markets, but it can cost up to a quarter of their families' income. Furthermore, the local community faces all of the same issues with water that the girls at the school do. It is unfair that some of these girls walk miles to and from school every day to get an education at the cost of their health, or that anyone for that matter is not able to access safe drinking water. We are going to implement our first project here to help these girls accomplish their dreams and improve the lives of the entire community.
How it works
There are many technologies available that effectively purify water. The problem is that these technologies aren’t reaching the areas that need them the most because of the high upfront costs. Even when these technologies do make it to impoverished areas, the long-term sustainability and water distribution planning are often overlooked. Many filtration systems are abandoned when the first breakdown occurs because there is a lack of revenue and expertise to fix the system. In light of these problems, 33 Buckets developed a solution to optimize the way potable water is distributed. We will provide the upfront capital required to install comprehensive water filters in rural schools, along with helping them to establish sustainable microbusinesses that encourage local entrepreneurs to sell affordable, clean water in their communities. In doing this, we will create some very real, extraordinary outcomes.
What Makes Us Different
33 Buckets' model of providing both water filters and income-generating microbusinesses sets us apart from other, larger organizations aiming to provide clean water. 33 Buckets’ social venture approach has the ability to support local jobs while generating profit, enabling us to scale rapidly and not have to rely solely on donations. Additionally, 33 Buckets is focused in Bangladesh, an area that is often overlooked in favor of its neighboring country India and other regions including Sub-Saharan Africa.
Be able to provide free, clean water to students in these rural schools, reducing the amount of time that they routinely lose to the impacts of rampant illness and the time-consuming processes of acquiring water where it is not readily available. Be able to provide considerably cheaper water to local businesses and therefore cheaper water to people, making it accessible to more people in local communities. Improve health by spreading awareness of the importance of clean water, sanitation and hygiene starting with schools. Millions of people around the world still suffer from a host of water-related ailments, many of which are easily preventable. Empower communities by providing them with the basic resources they need to improve their economy. UNESCO estimates that every $1 invested in water and sanitation results in a gain of up to $12 for the local economy. Improve education in rural areas. A portion of our proceeds generated from selling water will be put aside towards purchasing books, hiring teachers, bringing computers, and making scholarships available. Furthermore, students interested in business will get the opportunity to participate in a social-entrepreneurial project where they can learn basic business skills, which they can apply later on their own social venture.
What we've done so far
Last summer, our team laid the groundwork to implement this project successfully by making our first assessment trip to Bangladesh. While on site, the team was able to obtain all of the needed technical details for the project, from water chemistry to building specifications. Even more important, however, was the incredible network of partners we were able to establish. We have civil engineering students on the ground at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) who have agreed to conduct laboratory water testing, and a water filtration firm ready to supply and install a three-stage filter at the school. Most importantly of all, we have the support of the local community. The administrators and students of the school have been very supportive and excited for our project; in fact, 200 girls applied for admission to the school just the week after we left Bangladesh. Our partners in the village are working to build relationships with prospective vendors and we have already been informed that many of them will be happy to support the school by purchasing water.
Back home, our team has support from ASU Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program as well as faculty who are experts in construction, water purification, and design for the developing world. We’ve worked with the Layne Christensen Company, a world leader in water management and construction. And last but certainly not least, Rahima Hoque School founder Enamul Hoque, a geotechnical engineer who graduated from ASU and resides in the Phoenix area, has been the team’s greatest mentor and champion from day one. His support, technical knowledge, and cultural insight has enabled our team to grow from its beginnings in an EPICS class to implementing its first project this summer.
Timeline and Milestones
We need your help to travel and purchase the necessary equipment to start our small water business. This includes containers, water filtration, water testing, and water transportation to local tea shops.
Accomplishments and Awards
Over the past three years 33 Buckets at gone through an incredible journey, receiving recognition and accomplishing different things along the way. In Fall 2011, 33 Buckets was awarded the Global Innovation Award from Innocentive at a competition which other amazing project competed in. During the same competition next year, Spring 2012, 33 Buckets took 1st place with the Dean’s Award of Excellence. In May of 2012, the team also travelled to Bangladesh, to meet with the students and receive feedback for the social acceptability of the project. Upon returning, the team competed in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, where they took Top 5 out of 1800 projects in the world.