It’s not a new model, but if it’s going to eliminate cholera in Haiti, Faith Wallace-Gadsden is going to give it a try.
Wallace-Gadsden founded the Archimedes Project, named after the Greek mathematician Archimedes who had a theory that a large, seemingly impossible to move object can be done with a small force and a lever. Archimedes famously said, “Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I will move the world.”
The Archimedes Project leverages existing ideas, technology, and local communities and partners to eliminate problems by forming social enterprises around them. They’re about to launch their first clean water social enterprise to eliminate cholera in Haiti. Local women, called “Community Chlorinators”, will be employed, trained, and sent out into the community to sell chlorine for water purification similar to “Avon ladies”.
“Most water-related organizations are focused on distribution, however, without taking proper hygiene precautions people will continue to fall victim to this simple curable disease,” said Khanh Vien, a communications intern at Archimedes Project.
According to the World Health Organization, safe drinking water is not enough to prevent cholera. Other interventions needed are proper personal hygiene, proper food hygiene, and hygienic disposal of human excreta. Community Chlorinators work closely with communities to promote awareness and prevention.
Wallace-Gadsden, a molecular microbiology Ph.D. student who understood the science but had much to learn about humanitarian response, visited Haiti last year to see beyond the science and find successful health interventions at work. What she learned was the clunky coordination of aid distribution in Haiti and about 8,500 killed in the cholera outbreak beginning in 2010.
When she returned to Boston in November 2013, she began assembling what has now become the Archimedes Project. She will be heading back to Haiti this summer to begin the Community Chlorinators initiative, and is currently crowdfunding the launch.
“This human-centered social enterprise will give desperately needed jobs to Haitians, especially women, create market-based demand and a network-based distribution chain for a locally produced water purification product, test how to streamline the service model, and then quickly scale it in order to reach the greater population. This is exciting change in action – and with proper oversight, it will have a lasting effect that will save lives,” said Vien.
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.