World Bank seeks best ideas for water, sanitation and energy projects

It announces a $4 million competition for the best idea for local communities in developing countries that lack these basic services. Directed at improving water access for poor people, this year's Development Marketplace competition seeks proposals for local, small-scale projects that can be scaled up. Winners will be selected by an international jury of World Bank and independent development experts at the Development Marketplace event on May 9, 2006, in Washington D.C...

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2005 -- The World Bank said it would hold a competition to award $4 million to the best ideas to provide clean water, sanitation, and energy to local communities in developing countries lacking these basic services.

Entitled, "Innovation in Water, Sanitation, and Energy Services for Poor People," this year's Development Marketplace competition seeks proposals for local, small-scale projects with the potential to be scaled up. The winners will be selected by an international jury of World Bank and independent development experts at the Development Marketplace event on May 9, 2006, in Washington D.C.

Previous winning projects include building children's merry-go-rounds that doubled as village water-pumps in South Africa, reusing mosque water to irrigate dry fields in Yemen and constructing portable solar energy generators for remote Laotian households to rent.

Development Marketplace 2006 is open to all -- civil society groups, social entrepreneurs, youth organizations, private foundations, academia, private sector corporations -- with unique ideas that may not attract funding from traditional sources of finance. The maximum award will be $200,000 per proposal.

More than a billion people in developing countries don't have access to clean water, 2.6 billion people don't have access to hygienic facilities and nearly 3 billion people don't have reliable energy services.

"Ensuring all people have access to basic services is at the heart of development," says World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. "Yet today, millions of people still spend hours each day fetching clean water from faraway wells, two million children die from sanitation-related diseases, and families get sick from inhaling fumes from dirty fuels used for cooking. Development Marketplace competitions give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to pursue home-grown solutions to these problems."

Proposals will be accepted until November 30, 2005 and should address one of the following categories:
Service Delivery: Sustainable delivery of water supply, sanitation, and/or energy services to poor households;
Environment: Renewable energy, clean water technologies, energy efficiency, and/or environmentally sustainable sanitation solutions to poor households and to small enterprises;
Health: Protecting health from environmental risk factors (indoor air pollution, contaminated drinking water, unsafe sanitation), including innovative programs for hygiene promotion and behavioral change;
Natural Resources: Sustainable management of natural resources (land, water, forest) specifically for the provision of water supply, sanitation and energy to the poor

The Development Marketplace complements the World Bank's work by giving grassroots ideas a chance to solve local problems and by working directly with organizations that implement these projects.

"Development Marketplace emphasizes local innovative solutions of entrepreneurs and a broad group of organizations including community groups. The 2006 Marketplace will thus help to effectively reach thousands of people who may not be reached through conventional energy, water supply, and sanitation service projects," says Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President of Infrastructure.

"The energy and water professionals of the World Bank, the Water and Sanitation Program, and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program are delighted to have the opportunity to learn from entrepreneurs and community leaders, and to support their innovative efforts to provide energy, water supply and sanitation services to poor people," says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Energy and Water.

The World Bank is the world's largest external financier of water supply and sanitation and, and the largest pubic financier of clean energy services.

"Development Marketplace events are a unique opportunity for us and our development partners to find and fund promising local ideas that can yield great benefits and be replicated in other communities," says John Wilton, Vice President of Strategy, Finance and Risk Management, the World Bank Group.

"These yearly competitions allow us to get closer to people at the frontline of development who are reaching those in need."

The Development Marketplace is a World Bank program that uses a competitive and transparent process to support grassroots initiatives with innovative approaches to solving challenging development issues. The program has awarded nearly $34 million to roughly 800 small-scale projects over the last seven years.

Last year's Development Marketplace awarded $4 million in grants and attracted 2,638 proposals from 136 countries. Of these proposals, the biggest share, at 58%, were from non-governmental organizations. The second biggest share, at 14%, was from the private sector.

In addition to the global competition, the Development Marketplace will support nine country-level competitions in 2006 encompassing 17 countries, whose themes will be aligned with countries' poverty reduction priorities.

More information about the competition is available at www.developmentmarketplace.org in Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Or contact the Development Marketplace team at DMinfo@worldbank.org.

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