Gemma Bulos

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Gemma Bulos

The Edwin Cohen Community Steward Award Recipient, 2015
Fellowship Advisory Committee Member
2007 Global Fellow
Founder of A Single Drop for Safe Water with Kevin Lee

Gemma Bulos 2007 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Develop safe, effective water systems in villages across the Philippines through the combination of low-cost water purification technology and local community ownership.


Over 13 million Filipinos lack access to a safe water supply, which exposes them to serious health risks and fosters long-lasting conflicts around this scarce resource. Significant infectious water-borne diseases plague the country. A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) combines low-cost technology with local community ownership to bring effective water systems to villages across the country. The BioSand Filter, one of ASDSW’s many technologies, is a household water treatment that removes ninety-five to 100 percent of disease-causing organisms, which helps families take responsibility to improve their own health. Through the creation of community water organizations, or Water PODS (People Offering Deliverable Services), ASDSW empowers community members to implement this technology as well as to promote water education and self-reliance, while removing their dependence on outside funding sources. Water PODS train surrounding villages to spread access to safe water rapidly to the millions suffering without it.


Gemma Bulos, a Filipina-American musician, teacher and multi-award winning social entrepreneur deeply believes in a connection between peace and safe water access. Currently she is the Director of the Global Women's Water Initiative, a training program teaching women in Sub-Saharan Africa to be water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technicians, educators and social entrepreneurs. Much of her work in this area was spurred by her reaction to the tragedy of September 11th. While introducing new alternative water treatment technologies and studying water stewardship in the Philippines, she met Kevin Lee, a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Based on the concept that it takes a single drop of water to start a wave, they joined together in order to realize the power of community participation in building healthy communities. To date GWWI and ASDSW communities have been able to provide their own clean water and/or sanitation solutions, affecting the lives of over 210,000 people.

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