A single plastic container, blue like the color of a recycling bin, sits on a conference table at the USAID headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
In sub-Saharan Africa, dispensers just like it have prevented thousands of children from dying each year of diarrheal disease caused by drinking dirty water.
“That’s it,” Jill Boezwinkle says, lifting the lid to show a smaller tank inside that dispenses an exact dosage of bacteria-killing chlorine with a twist of the valve.
“Simple,” she adds.
Simple, maybe. But by next year, the Dispensers for Safe Water project, of which the container is the star, should reach more than 5 million people in Uganda and Kenya, organizers said. The hope is that its use then will spread to other countries.
To get this far took complex teamwork by people across several sectors to rethink an old, ineffective solution and invent a better one.