Abt Associates’ Peter Chandonait Named USAID’s Grand Prize Winner for Innovation to Action Award

Peter Chandonait, Abt Associates Principal Scientist and Director of Environmental Compliance and Safety for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) Project, has been named the Grand Prize Winner of USAID’s Innovation to Action Award.

The Innovation to Action Award, a USAID Catalyst Award, recognizes USAID staff and implementing partners who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in motivating teams to test or implement innovative approaches through active or recently closed USAID projects/programs to increase program impact.

Chandonait was awarded the prize for creating and driving the adoption of a mobile soak pit, a type of water filter that has improved operational efficiency, produced cost savings and extended the reach of the AIRS project. The project protects millions of people in Africa from malaria by spraying insecticide on the walls, ceilings, and other indoor resting places of mosquitoes that transmit malaria.

The PMI AIRS Project manages indoor residual spraying (IRS) operations and logistics in 12 countries where malaria is endemic. Working with country governments, PMI AIRS ensures spraying does not harm people or the environment. Clean-up is an essential part of the indoor residual spraying (IRS) process, as contaminated water is generated from rinsing spray tanks and washing personal protective equipment.

The mobile soak pit (MSP) consists of a 5-gallon plastic container with layers of sponge particulate filtration, nylon screening, and activated carbon. The mobile soak pit weighs about 10 kilos, and can be carried to a spray location and installed in minutes, allowing a traveling IRS spray team to clean up quickly and immediately after completion of daily spraying.

When operations are complete in the local area, the MSP and associated equipment are removed, and the hole where the soak pit was installed is refilled. The site is restored to its original condition, leaving a barely noticeable environmental footprint.

“Being named winner of USAID’s Grand Prize for Innovation to Action Award is a tremendous honor for Peter and the PMI AIRS Project,” said Dr. Diana R. Silimperi, Division Vice President for International Health. “Abt is focused on bringing innovative thinking that’s grounded in evidence to all our work to improve…

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