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Solution Search Announces ECOAct Tanzania And Instituto de Montaña as Grand Prize Winners

Global Crowdsourcing Contest Surfaced 100 Behavioral Solutions from Over 30 Countries for Reducing or Preventing Water Pollution

Solution Search announces ECOAct Tanzania and Instituto de Montaña as the Grand Prize winners of the global Water Pollution and Behavior Change contest. ECOAct Tanzania received the Judges’ Choice award, while the Instituto de Montaña won the People’s Choice award. Both winners were announced during BE.Hive: Behavioral Solutions to Water Pollution, a virtual summit hosted by Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment (BE.Center). The winners will receive a prize of $25,000 each.

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“Congratulations to both ECOAct and Instituto de Montaña. We are thrilled to spotlight their inspiring work to reduce and prevent water pollution on a global stage. These organizations, along with all of the finalists, are tremendous examples of how we can shift people’s behavior to protect the natural resources on which we all depend,” said Kevin Green, Vice President of Rare’s BE.Center.

ECOAct Tanzania was selected by a panel of judges with expertise ranging from environmental advocacy to behavioral economics. The organization combats an array of societal and environmental challenges, from access to healthcare and housing to reducing plastic waste in the ocean and deforestation. The company diverts plastic garbage from the ocean, and transforms it into durable plastic timbers used in construction. To motivate the community to participate, ECOAct launched “Garbage Medical Insurance,” a micro health insurance program that utilizes garbage as a financial resource for people that are not able to afford traditional health insurance plans.

“We are super excited to have won the grand prize. This prize means a lot to us. It has given us more energy to work hard and scale our project, because it is important to know that we only have this planet to live and it is safe when we are able to control and reduce pollution on water bodies,” says Christian Mwijage, Managing Director of ECOAct Tanzania.

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Instituto de Montaña connects local knowledge with external expertise to reduce pollution from mines into freshwater sources. Pollution from metals into the water affects irrigation systems, crops and human health, disproportionately affecting mountain communities. The organization’s approach builds trust between local indigenous researchers—who trained themselves on key aspects of water quality—with scientists to design and implement a solution: a low-cost bio-remediation system using simple techniques to sediment water and capture metals in artificial wetlands.

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“At the Instituto de Montaña we take care of life in the mountains working with local communities. And we feel deeply honored to receive the Solution Search: Water Pollution & Behavior Change award, which is a recognition of the deep knowledge, effort and perseverance of the communities that guard the quality of water that comes from the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. At the same time, this award is an incentive to continue betting on working with communities to jointly find nature-based and people-centered solutions,” said Cecila Turin, Lead Researcher, Mountain Social Ecosystems of Instituto de Montaña.

ECOAct Tanzania and Instituto de Montaña join the other two award winners from this year’s contest. Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) was announced as the winner of the Environmental Justice Prize and Rabab Luxor as the Youth Leadership Prize winner.

Solution Search: Water Pollution & Behavior Change is supported by Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment, 11th Hour Racing’s grant program, funded by The Schmidt Family Foundation, The Circulate Initiative, the Inter-American Development Bank, Lonely Whale, The Nature Conservancy, and Ocean Conservancy.

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