The Award recognizes organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean which have implemented innovative and effective solutions, with proven results in the management of water, sanitation and solid waste.
Monterrey, Nuevo León - The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the FEMSA Foundation presented organizations in Bolivia, Colombia and Belize with the fifth edition of the BID-FEMSA Water and Sanitation Award for Latin America and the Caribbean, in recognition of their innovative practices in the management of water, sanitation and solid waste, respectively.
The Award was created in 2009 with the aim of encouraging the exchange of experiences that generate creative solutions to promote sustainable development in Latin America. Every year, a Technical Committee of specialists from the IDB, in coordination with FEMSA Foundation, meets to assess and select projects which have reached measurable results.
On this occasion, the Water category was awarded to the Cooperative of Drinking Water and Sewage Services (Cooperativa de Servicios de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado Sanitario 'COOPLAN' for its Spanish acronym) in Bolivia for its business excellence and for the innovative model of water services management it has applied in a very complex area of the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, known as the ‘Plan 3000’. This initiative has managed to increase the level of drinking water coverage to 81% and to maintain a level of continuity of 24 hours per day, while reaching financial balance, becoming a self-sustainable project.
In the Sanitation category, Empresas Publicas de Medellín ('EPM' for its Spanish acronym), in Colombia, was selected as the winner for its sanitation program of the Medellín River, the city's main watercourse. The program started in the eighties and constitutes a 30-year ongoing and systematic effort to improve the river's environmental conditions. Among the main results are the extension of the sewage network to 2.8 miles, the recovery of the river bank as a public space and the creation of a wastewater treatment plant. It is worth mentioning that a second wastewater treatment plant is currently under construction, with a capacity of almost three times the first one.
Likewise, the Solid Waste Management Authority in Belize was recognized, thanks to the country's integral solid waste management program. The initiative, launched in 2009, has the aim of reducing environmental pollution and of strengthening the country's image as an important eco-tourist destination. Thanks to this program, Belize has become one of the region's leading countries in solid waste management. By February 2014, approximately 50% of the solid waste will be properly disposed, mainly benefiting the populations of the cities of Belize, San Ignacio and Santa Elena, as well as two of the country's main tourist destinations: Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.
The Water Award winning projects will receive scholarships for training courses offered by the Water Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (Centro del Agua para América Latina y el Caribe 'CdA' for its Spanish acronym), in addition to the Silver Drop created by artist Gerald Azcúnaga.
- Anamaria Nuñez