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African innovators to improve access to quality water, sanitation and hygiene


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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) innovators and representatives, from left: Josué Ibulungu, Ronald Mawerere, Peris Waweru, Rihlat Said Mohamed, Nick Alcock, Eunice Namirembe, Joseph Githinji, Victor Shikoli, and Senangninan Tossou.


The African Academy of Sciences
The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation whose vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science. Our tripartite mandate is recognizing excellence through the AAS’ highly prestigious fellowship and award schemes, providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) strategies and policies and implementing key STI programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges through the funding, agenda setting and funding platform Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in science in Africa (AESA platform). AESA is an initiative of the AAS and the African Union Development (AUDA-NEPAD) Agency. Grand Challenges Africa is a programme of The AAS that seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by awarding seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions.  

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Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. Through our work and in cooperation with others, we contribute to implementing Sweden’s Policy for Global Development.

About Gates Foundation 
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African innovators to improve access to quality water, sanitation and hygiene

“Today’s announcement represents a trsanitizationemendous milestone in contributing to efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6,” said Dr Moses Alobo who is Programme Manager for Grand Challenges Africa, a programme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), under which the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) scheme falls.

The seven were selected from a competitive pool of 166 applicants from across the continent to improve or strengthen the quality, accessibility, delivery, distribution, and awareness of water, sanitation and hygiene.


SDG 6 seeks to change the status quo where billions of people globally living in densely populated informal and/or low-income urban settlements lack adequate sanitation. 4.5 billion lack access to sanitation altogether, with as many as one billion people worldwide defecating in the open or sharing public toilets and water sources, and an additional three billion using toilets from which the waste is not safely managed – meaning that either it is not safely contained or, once emptied, is not safely treated. Over 60% of the human waste that is collected in the developing world is discharged untreated into the environment. 

This award represents a partnership between BMGFArm, UNICEF,  and The AAS,  and is funded in partnership with Sida.

The innovations will reduce gender-based violence in areas where access to toilets has been communal and left women and children vulnerable to violence and abuse; streamline waste collection; and monitor water use and quality to deliver efficient and accurate billing services in urban areas.

The WASH funding will also enable grantees to evaluate sanitation infrastructure and assess the level of service deliveries across urban contexts and map trends in real-time.


Meet the Grand Challenges Africa - WASH innovators:

Marvin Ayazika Nakwagala, Ugandan, OXFAM (Democratic Republic of the Congo-DRC)

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 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.


Ronald Mawerere, Ugandan, AMREF Health Africa (Uganda)

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.


Faye Brownell, South African, – Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (South Africa)

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 fecal and solid waste pollution sources that affect water quality and subsequently human health.


Rihlat Said- Mohamed, South African, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

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.


Titus Kuria, Kenyan, Fresh Life Initiative (Kenya)

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.

Victor Shikoli, Kenyan, HydroIQ (Kenya)
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.

Eunice Namirembe, Ugandan, Kampala Capital City Authority, (Uganda)

To utilise a mobile enabled Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and an embedded point-based reward system/application to track fecal 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 fecal 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.

Watch: our grantees speak here

and here in French

Watch the Inception Video

See Inception Photos