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Charity: water receives $5 million grant from Google

By Oliver Joy
updated 9:29 AM EST, Tue December 4, 2012
Charity: water builds water wells for communities in the developing world and is hoping to install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors.
Charity: water builds water wells for communities in the developing world and is hoping to install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A large part of the pilot program would also involve continuing its work in training local mechanics
  • The sensors will transmit real-time data to the charity and its donors on the condition of the wells
  • Harrison said the charity is planning to test different technologies for each country depending on the type of well

(CNN) -- Charity: water will receive a $5 million grant from Google's Global Impact Awards to provide clean and sustainable water supplies to the world's most far-flung and impoverished regions.

The non-profit group that builds water wells for communities in the developing world is hoping to install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors.

The sensors will transmit real-time data to the charity and its donors on the condition and flow of water at particular wells.

Charity: water founder Scott Harrison announced the new plan today at the 2012 LeWeb conference in Paris.

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"We realize 4,000 [sensors] is an aggressive target to implement by the end of 2015, but we've always set aggressive goals," Harrison told CNN. "We are first going to target Ethiopia, Nepal and a few other African and Asian countries that are undecided at this time."

The entire initiative will be funded through Google's Global Impact Awards, a scheme designed by the Silicon Valley tech giant to support pioneering technologies.

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Harrison said the charity is planning to test different technologies for each country depending on the type of well installed there.

"For example, our commitment in Ethiopia has consisted mainly of hand-dug wells, and in Nepal, we fund large-scale spring systems. Two completely different sensors, partners, and methodologies," he explained.

Knowing the location of the well isn't enough anymore -- the charity also wants to collect information to establish if the wells are working and if they need to be fixed.

A large part of the pilot program would also involve continuing its work in training local mechanics to maintain the water supply, which Charity: water says will spur job creation.

Harrison added: "We want to do the best job of fully implementing the technology as well as building up response teams (mechanics) to ensure the sustainability of the projects and continue serving our beneficiaries with full transparency."

The aid group -- founded in 2006 -- began its work in Uganda, installing wells in refugee camps. Since then it has funded over 6,700 projects in 20 countries.

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