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Plan To Bring Toilets, Running Water To India’s Poor Wins Global+5 Grand Award reports Adam Plumbing Cambridge

(EMAILWIRE.COM, October 31, 2012 ) San Francisco CA- A new international award for "solutions to the most pressing global questions of the next five years" has gone to Gram Vikas. The winner is a non-governmental organization (NGO) in eastern India, for its innovative plan to bring toilets and running water to that nation’s rural communities, where 85% of the populace lack access to toilets and 99% have no running water.

Newly begun by the Global Journal of Geneva, Switzerland, the Global+5 Grand Award went to the group’s Mantra (Movement and Action network for Transformation of Rural Lives) Project. Judges for the award included Pascal Lamy, director of the World Trade Organization, and George Papandreou, a former prime minister of Greece.

Appearing at the new award inaugural presentation ceremony in Geneva was Joe Madiath, the project’s head, who said the plan was “more than water and sanitation, it's human dignity." He also voiced his surprise a project to bring toilets to millions of Indians “could lead to such a big prize.”

By bringing running water and toilets to improve the sanitation of 988 villages, some in hilly areas without electricity, Madiath’s project claims it has caused waterborne diseases reduced with an 80% drop. Lack of running water and sanitary facilities has long helped keep country dwellers trapped in a vicious cycle of disease and poverty, it further notes. Census data shows that slightly less than half of India’s 330 million households have access toilet facilities, but nearly two-thirds have telephones, usually cellphones.

Six other projects also received recognition. The Working World, an NGO based in Argentina, Nicaragua and the US, received the first Global+5 Impact award for developing an alternative finance model to bring low-interest, no-collateral loans to support sustainable worker cooperatives.

The first GLOBAL+5 Innovation Award went to the Deepwater Project, for using a unique solar-powered scientific voyage to explore how climate change may be affecting the Gulf Stream. The first Empowerment award was given to the social movement Russia Behind Bars, led by Russian journalist and opposition figure Olga Romanova, which is dedicated to fighting corruption and working for reform in that nation’s legal system.

The award jury gave special mention to a German initiative, known as the "Discovering Hands," initiative, which has hired 20 visually-impaired women to help detect early-stage breast cancer with their heightened sense of touch. The group said its visually-impaired workers’ success rate in detecting the disease was 50% higher than with other methods. Also honored were the Sustainable Infrastructure Fund, which seeks to draw institutional investors to sustainable infrastructure policy, and Peace for Mexico – Mexico for Peace, a grassroots campaign fighting narco-violence in that nation.

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Adam Rudolph Edwards


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