The World Bank in partnership with Google Developers Group, Google Developers Group, Google Business Group, Globe Labs, Globe Telecom and Blog Watch holds the First Sanitation Hackathon (SanHack) on December 1 and December 2 to help find innovative solutions to address sanitation problems.
The Sanitation Hackathon emerges out of the recognition that the rapid increase of penetration, awareness and literacy in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the developing world can transform water and sanitation management. Mobile phones, the Internet and open data are creating new entry points to make sanitation services more transparent, inclusive and participatory while forging new connections between the government, its citizens and the private sector.
Sanitation is a human right
While over 1 billion people have no facilities at all and are forced to engage in hazardous and demeaning practice of open defecation, the UN General Assembly recognized sanitation and water as a human right essential to the realization of all human rights.
In 2010, Resolution 64/292 calls upon States and international organizations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
According to Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, “ensuring access to sanitation for all, which is safe, affordable, acceptable and sufficient, requires multiple intervention from different stakeholders, leadership, an enabling environment, and an engaged population willing and able to claim their rights”. With this, it provided a major argument to all sanitation advocates and became an important step towards turning these rights into a reality.
Sanitation is also considered a good economic investment. A dollar invested yields five dollars in return. There is a growing evidence showcasing socio-economic returns such as improving school attendance, decreasing healthcare costs and improving human productivity, and other benefits related to dignity and safety due to improved health.
Hackathons are increasingly used to pair young technologists with development challenges. In order to bring about new technological innovations in the water and sanitation sector, the World Bank along with its many partners and stakeholders initiated a process that culminated in the first-ever Water Hackathon in October 2011. The event featured nearly 1000 registered hackers at ten locations worldwide who developed some 62 new prototypes. The Sanitation Hackathon builds off of the Water Hackathon’s successful experience of building communities of civic technologists dedicated to innovation in public service delivery.
The objective of the sanitation hackathon is “raise awareness of sanitation challenges in developing countries and create a network of software professionals & atypical partners to find innovative solutions using ICT”
On twitter, Blog Watch discussed the access to sanitation facilities and possible solutions. Here are some of the curated tweets.