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VIT University Student bags the second prize at 2015 RELX Group Environmental Challenge

RELX Group, a world-leading provider of professional information solutions, today announced the winners of the 2015 RELX Group Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. The$50,000 first and $25,000 second prize winners were recognised during World Water Week in Stockholm, a unique annual event bringing together water researchers, policymakers, journalists, companies and non-profits to address the key water challenges of the 21st century.

The winning project teams will get free access for one year to ScienceDirect, Elsevier's database of full text, scientific information, including 367,000 articles in environmental science.

Dr Márcia Balisciano, RELX Group's Director of Corporate Responsibility, said: "The RELX Group Environmental Challenge builds on our expertise in science by rewarding two outstanding projects that will bring clean water to communities in need. This is the fifth year of the Environmental Challenge - we have now funded more than 10 projects around the world, each helping to bring water and improved sanitation to those who need it most.

The $50,000 first prize winner is Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation (AIDFI), a Philippines-based social enterprise that provides reliable drinking water to upland rural areas using a unique hydraulic ram pump. Made from locally-sourced materials, the pump uses the pressure of falling water to pump water to villages above a water source, with each pump reaching an average of 600 people. AIDFI has had success in Afghanistan, Colombia, Nepal and the Philippines, assisting some 222,000 people in 370 villages. The prize money will launch a ram pump pilot project in Mexico.

The $25,000 second prize winner is Salino, a project managed by Devlina Das of India's VIT University. The project will convert sea water into drinking water using a unique five-step method powered by solar energy. Aimed at India's semi-arid and arid zones, Salino will initially target 50 homes and data from the pilot will be used to scale implementation.

A shortlist of four candidates was chosen from 135 original applicants; the winning projects are replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative, emphasising solutions with practical applicability. The Challenge's distinguished panel of judges included Dr Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Dr Mark van Loosdrecht, Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology; Hanny Mass, Programme Manager of the Dutch WASH Alliance; Dr Prasad Modak, Executive President of the Environmental Management Centre in India; Professor Gang Pan, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Bibi van der Zee, Editor, Global Development Professionals Network at the Guardian. The winning projects will be featured in Elsevier journalWater Research.