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GRoWES: Global Research on WaSH (water, sanitation, hygiene) to Eliminate child Stunting

GuatemalaUnited States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Scaling strategies launched within the past 6 months:
Not Applicable
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Globally, 150 million children suffer from stunting – or low height for age. Stunting creates a poverty trap where short of stature children grow into short of stature adults. GRoWES aims to eliminate childhood stunting through scientific understanding, community co-invented solutions, and scaling.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could eliminate an unnecessary poverty trap and free children to have better lives?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

GRoWES is a proven solution to stunting – we’ve written articles and won awards accompanying communities as they study the causes and invent solutions to shatter the poverty trap of stunting. What’s needed is scaling up – moving from the “example” to the “systematic solution”. What Borlaug did for the green revolution, we need to do for the WaSH revolution – promoting food safety and security alongside clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We need a “reproducible” solution at the interface of food and water. For either space – food or water – we know the solutions to improve nutrition or hygiene. For stunting, we lack an “interface” solution; we lack a method that blends hygiene from food to water preventing subclinical diarrhea and systemic inflammation of the gut. Chronic, low-level environmental insults – microbes and toxicants – prevent proper uptake of the nutrients needed for proper growth of children during the first 1,000-days of life – from the time a mom learns she’s pregnant and until the second birthday of her child.


2016 Superior Award, American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists; 2018, Leal Award, American Water Works Association; 2018 Best Innovative Solution Award, CIEH in the UK; 2019, Wald Humanitarian Award, National League for Nursing.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Students from Missouri University of Science and Technology conducted a service-learning project to learn community-based participatory research (CBPR) as a tool to co-invent and co-own solutions to the public health challenge of stunting. Using structural equation modeling (SEM) as a data management framework, and employing both literature review of existing data as well as data collection via qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys, a confirmatory SEM was constructed to identify how water and food were contributing to childhood stunting in small rural communities in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Educational interventions were shared with nurses to educate mothers who to avoid conditions that contribute to stunting.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

GRoWES uses science to understand the problem of stunting, uses engineering design to develop solutions, and using nursing to share solutions with mothers to improve conditions for their children. The success of GRoWES – eliminating childhood stunting – will shatter a current poverty trap and allow a generation of children to grow into strong, healthy, economically viable parents. Scaling up GRoWES will mean improvements in the lives of 150 million children today, and countless children in future generations.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We need to find the right way to package the current success of GRoWES and share the model more broadly as part of scaling-up efforts. The work that has been completed in Guatemala, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa is promising, and the approach holds across a variety of conditions and cultures. Promoting collaboration among scientists, engineers, and nurses - working in partnership to empower communities - works well at the local level. As a successful model, GRoWES must be disseminated to others.
Funding: How is your project financially supported?: 
bequests - 50%
grants or contracts - 50%

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

GRoWES will work best as community-based participatory research (CBPR) where ownership and responsibility remains with the local community. We need to drive this forward in the public health sector.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The United Nations - Scaling up nutrition movement - and bi-lateral aid agencies - USAID, DFID, etc - are investing resources in aspects of this space. But none are focused on the interface of food and water - current projects are siloed into either the "water/WaSH" or the "food and nutrition security" camps.

Founding Story

See web site.


See web site.