Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. Each initiative is an experiment in the use of challenges to focus innovation on making an impact. Individual challenges address some of the same problems, but from differing perspectives.
To apply Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to develop and test a pollution monitoring and management system which will connect community- based Pollution Control Officers and local government to effectively drive change in municipal responses to incidents of water pollution. The project will focus on rapid identification of sources of faecal and solid waste pollution sources that affect water quality and subsequently human health. It will involve tracking pollution due to sewage leaks, pump malfunctions or other environmental problems as well as solid waste challenges linked to water quality and sanitation.
To utilise a mobile enabled Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and an embedded point-based reward system/application to track faecal sludge management (FSM) patterns among waste entrepreneurs and subsequently inform issuing of incentives and subsidies to them. The incentives and subsidies will be issued based on the volume of faecal sludge emptied. The reward system will comprise integration of a point-based incentive system and a micro-loan as well as a non- cash incentive that facilitates day to day business running requirements needed for safe pit emptying.
To develop a software platform (accessible through text messaging and a mobile application) for women in informal settlements to report and receive real time information in cases where accessing public latrines and water sources may be a risk to their safety. The information will then be linked to service providers and community leaders to increase efficiency of maintenance of facilities and ensure they are safe for women and children to use.
To use digital water Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) dispensers and electronically rechargeable water ATM cards to improve access to sustainable and affordable clean water in poor peri-urban cities in DRC. This innovation will help reduce queuing times and gender-based violence against women and children who are normally obliged to walk at specific times in the early mornings or late evenings to access water points. The innovation will also improve the financial management of revenue from water for water providers to support sustainable operation and maintenance of water systems and expenditure by customers, through facilitating the payment of water upfront, allowing measurement of water sold and providing a digital audit trail to mitigate fraud.
Development of HydroIQ, a Global Positioning System (GPS) and internet-enabled device plugged into existing water supply systems and along water distribution networks to automatically monitor water use, water quality and water leakages using sensors and send data to an online platform in real-time, thereby turning traditional water systems into smart water grids to improve water use and billing efficiency, sanitation and hygiene in urban areas.
To establish a One Stop Digital Sanitation Solution Centre, a dashboard/digital platform that harmonizes the Ministry of Health and Urban governments’ WASH indicators and links government, service providers, entrepreneurs and end users to support and improve multi-sectoral decision making, planning, and provision of safely managed sanitation services to peri-urban settlements of Kampala city in Uganda.
To develop an ICT (Information & Communication Technology) platform and integrated mobile technologies to implement efficient digital customer support strategy and streamline waste collection, for Fresh Life's fast-growing network of toilets. End users will be able to utilize the platform to report maintenance and give feedback on sanitation products or services, among other applications. The platform will allow Fresh Life Initiative to improve their delivery of services through data collection for monitoring quality and standards of services by tracking efficiency and maintenance of waste collection and other sanitation products or services that Fresh Life Initiative provides to informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.
Samuel Dorevitch of the University of Illinois at Chicago in the U.S. will build solar-powered ozonation systems to supply purified water to families living in Kenyan slums. Many peri-urban informal settlements (slums) around the world lack safe, affordable drinking water. In the absence of centralized water purification, methods like chlorination, solar disinfection, and filtration can be used. However, these are time-consuming and expensive, and are generally not monitored for water quality. They have developed microplasma technology for a solar-powered system that can purify surface water by ozonation without the need for electricity. They will increase the scale of this system to produce 2,000 litres of clean water each day and add sensing and reporting technology for sending information on water quality to local health officials. To test their approach, a purification system run by an array of solar panels will be installed in each of two slums in Kisumu city to provide water for 50 families and be run by local clean water teams. Two frameworks for managing and sustaining the clean water system - a membership-based cooperative and a for-profit vendor charging a nominal fee – will also be tested. The results will be used to inform the next stage of expansion to systems with a 10,000 litre/day capacity in cities in two African and two South Asian countries.
Rachel Sklar of Pit Pumpers Ltd. in Rwanda will develop an interactive SMS messaging platform to increase community use of companies to safely empty pit latrines in Rwanda by using communication to increase demand and thereby decrease cost and wait-times for service calls. Pit latrines, used by nearly two billion people worldwide, must be emptied regularly to avoid public health risks associated with fecal contamination of groundwater. Companies in Rwanda provide an emptying service with cost-saving opportunities when several households book together. However, this is more difficult to arrange for users in remote areas, and households may resort to unsafe dumping. They will improve coordination of service requests among remote communities by using local shop owners (duka agents) to identify households needing an emptying service. These leads will be followed up with targeted SMS marketing, and the agents paid a commission for those converted to customers. The interactive SMS messaging platform will provide households with a referral code to invite neighbors to join the service call, and the resulting cluster of customers pay a reduced rate for emptying. It will further include educational messages explaining the negative impacts of manual dumping of fecal sludge to promote behavior change. They will develop the platform and test their approach by training agents in Kigali, Rwanda.
Do-yeon Pi of PiQuant in the Republic of Korea will develop a small, low-cost, water quality test equipment and a GIS-based monitoring system to continuously map water quality in real-time across Vietnam. Despite the extensive river network running through the country, many Vietnamese, especially in rural areas, remain short of clean water. Drinking water can be polluted by many different pathogenic microorganisms such as Salmonella and E. coli that cause waterborne diseases. Spectroscopic devices are used to monitor water quality but they require expensive time-consuming procedures to remove background noise and improve accuracy. They have built a small spectroscopic device incorporating a noise-canceling algorithm that can quickly and accurately measure water quality at a much lower cost than traditional devices. They have identified the major water pollutants in each region and have developed a prototype water scanner. This will be distributed in a pilot area to demonstrate preliminary proof of performance for measuring water quality. They will also set up a GIS-based monitoring system that maps the water quality data and allow users to analyze the potential causes of water pollution and react quickly.