WaterHackathon : a techie boost to help solve the global WASH challenge

Sep 16, 2011


Elynn Walter
WASH Sustainability Director, WASH Advocacy Initiative


Each year new challenges surface across the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector, yet with proven solutions these challenges are solvable. The problem is sometimes the proven solutions need a technological leg-up. Let's be clear, technology alone is not the solution, but it is improbable to think that implementing non-profits along with the community and local government can fix all of the WASH problems of the world sustainably without a little help from technology.


For hundreds of years, technologies such as rainwater harvesting and boiling water as a form of household water treatment have been effective and efficient locally implemented solutions. However, these approaches are having a hard time keeping up with population growth, as resources become increasingly scarce. In contrast, as access to technological- like mobile phone - increases, there may be a place for new innovations and technologies. When more people in the world have a cell phone than a toilet, it may be time to re-evaluate how we look at the largest global public health crisis.

I am excited to see the World Bank, in coordination with international and local partners, is bringing a new group of people to the table - computer programmers  -to give the WASH programs and projects around the world a techie boost. October 21-23 will be the first global WaterHackathon held simultaneously in eight cities around world. including Bangalore, Cairo, Kampala, Lima, London, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, and Washington DC. The WaterHackathon will be a marathon of brainstorming and developing where software developers and designers collaborate to create new tools for solving issues related to access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation as well as other water challenges. The “hackers” will work with WASH subject matter experts who have predefined problems that could use a techie solution.

 If you are a WASH implementer and have a problem you think could use a technology kick-start then join this global event and submit your idea. Follow the action at www.waterhackathon.org!

-- Elynn Walter, WASH Sustainability Director, WASH Advocacy Initiative

For more information:

-- Learn about innovative programs that combine safe drinking water with other health interventions in a new report, "Join Up, Scale Up: How integration can defeat disease and poverty." 

-- Not a computer programmer? Become an advocate! Join the Health/WASH Network.