Seed Grants 2020

Response needed by November 25, 2019

If you have a technology or a solution that is relevant to any of the problem statements highlighted below, please connect with us by filling a short questionnaire (3 questions) https://purdue.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_e5k8ryfbyr1Zm73

 


Problem Statements

Humanitarian Response / Disaster preparedness

Problem #1: Developing appropriate retrofitting solutions for earthquake hit region

Collaborating Organization: HRRP (Housing Recovery and Reconstruction Platform), CRS (Catholic Relief Services)
Country/Region of execution:   Nepal
Problem Statment: On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal and with subsequent aftershocks destroyed over 900,000 individual houses. People are building houses generally too small for their needs, one or two rooms versus the traditional 6 rooms. This results in one of two next steps for them: either households extend their inappropriately sized and designed house to accommodate their needs, or they live in their pre-earthquake damaged and structurally vulnerable house. In a hazard prone context such as Nepal with a very high chance of natural disasters , both of these paths leave significant scope for households to live in structural inadequacy, with grave safety implications. House-size analysis suggests that there is a significant shift (almost a reversal) in house size occurring as a result of the reconstruction. The reduced number of rooms presents one issue. Additionally, with 86% of houses traditionally being 2 stories or more, and current estimates showing 85% of post-earthquake houses being only 1 story , it is no surprise that we see the majority of households either extending (horizontally or vertically), or continuing to reside in their damaged, larger traditional family house (40% doing so).
The use, structural adequacy and the placement of earthquake elements has had a great deal of engineering input from many sources; however, the engineering has not taken into account, extensions to these structures. The government and I/NGOs currently have not developed any technical solutions or guidance strategies to address structural vulnerabilities occurring as a result of the extensions. With no communication strategies or technical guidance on how to extend, the structurally adequate (but functionally inadequate) new smaller houses will become structurally vulnerable as extensions are done. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has recently established a Retrofitting Alliance, of which CRS is a part, to develop appropriate retrofitting solutions with innovation and using new technology where feasible.

Problem #2: Co-creating a solution/process to address rapid qualitative coding of data to support more informed and agile humanitarian programming.

Collaborating Organization: CARE USA
Country/Region of execution:   Global
Problem Statment: As disasters and the operating models we use to address them get more complex, the need for high- quality, real-time data to drive decision making is becoming more critical. The tools available for collecting data are evolving and getting more sophisticated, and the expectations for collecting high- quality data that can be used for ongoing program adaptation in humanitarian settings are constantly increasing. CARE is increasingly responding to complex emergencies and operating in a variety of challenging contexts requiring innovative monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning methodologies, including through remote monitoring. CARE’s Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) toolkit,[1] which has recently been adopted by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC, through its Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action)[2] provides information about the different needs, capacities and coping strategies of women, men, boys and girls in a crisis, in part by examining the relationships between them. An RGA is built up over time, progressively adding more data and analysis as it becomes available and as the situation changes. It is based on the CARE Good Practice Analytical Framework. The RGA provides essential information about gender roles and responsibilities, capacities and vulnerabilities, together with programming recommendations, and ensures that CARE, and other organizations using the tool, comprehensively meet the needs of everyone involved in the crisis. Published in 2016, the RGA has been used in over 50 countries, is fully open access, and has been implemented by the IFRC, Red Cross, Oxfam, Gencap, DFID and DFAT, among others. While the RGA has been a very successful tool, providing critical information to improve emergency response, it currently has limitations. It depends on a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data from assessments to produce useful analysis, and most data collection tools, like KoBoToolbox,[3] are unable to collect narrative, qualitative data in an effective way, meaning qualitative data is not captured and analyzed at scale. During current qualitative data collection, given the speed with which humanitarian assessments must be undertaken and the often-challenging locations and logistical arrangements involved in this work, reports from meetings with beneficiaries (such as through focus group discussions) can be very limited, despite the richness of discussions that can take place. In addition, for many of the qualitative RGA assessment tools available, pen and paper is the only option for collecting data.
We are currently working with a developer to enable quicker capture of qualitative data through a transcription app. However, we need to explore solutions to take these transcriptions and rapidly analyze the information to turn around and use it in an emergency setting. This would facilitate the gathering of more in-depth and detailed information, improve the RGA and build RGA results into adaptive management in these settings – facilitating even more informed recommendations for program corrections.

Problem #3: Solution towards Peacebuilding activities in Gedeo/West Guji Gedeo-West Guji region

Collaborating Organization: CRS (Catholic Relief Services)
Country/Region of execution:   Ethiopia
Problem Statment: Over three million people were displaced in Ethiopia over the last 2-3 years due to internal conflict between ethnic populations. Conflict arose due to pressure over existing resources, disputes over political boundaries and unemployment, particularly the lack of job opportunities for Ethiopia’s growing youth population. Recognizing the scarcity of basic resources in the areas and instability between conflict affected communities, humanitarian actors, including CRS, are actively working to assure basic services are met, to address the root causes of the conflict and to continually monitor the state of the conflicts. In addition to providing basic services to conflict affected communities, CRS recognized the need for peacebuilding activities to bring sustainable harmony between conflicting groups. For this to happen, CRS is working very closely with selected youth as peace ambassadors, as well as creating peace clubs in secondary schools. Currently, the peace ambassadors receive trainings on peacebuilding principles to then interact with local communities using tested peacebuilding techniques. However, given the size of the conflict areas, there are limited opportunities for peace ambassadors to continually interact with all communities to deliver the peace messages.  While peace ambassadors work has proven effective in local communities, their main method of peacebuilding is to simply to cascade the trainings they received to the rural communities.  This requires the peace ambassadors to always be physically present and to continually follow-up with the same communities over long periods of time. In addition, collecting instant feedback, monitoring and reporting of message delivery is also challenging for peace ambassadors with limited means of tracking their visits to communities.  CRS plans to do the following and seeds support:
• Develop readymade peace messages:  The recordings will be handed-over to communities to use in community gatherings without needing the continual presence of the peace ambassadors.
• Creating peace ambassador tracking points using GPS:  The system will help to track the locations of the peace ambassadors and monitor the coverage of the activities.
• Setting up a real-time feedback mechanism: To collect feedback from community members on the overall acceptance of any peace message, they are provided with OMBEA Express Pods. OMBEA pods are portable devices used to collect instant feedback from participants using both SMILER and multiple-choice questions specific to the context. They are portable, easy to use, and have inbuilt batteries and sim cards. From the experience of a USAID-funded Development Food Security Assistance (DFSA) program of CRS, OMBEA express pods are valuable in collecting feedback about experiences, perceptions, and services. The pods produce ongoing streams of feedback, are summarized in an online dashboard, and allow data breakdown and analysis as required.    
• Setting-Up a Short SMS number: Work with EthioTelecom (Ethiopian telephone company) to set-up a notification mechanism of peace quotes and texting of peace related information and/or meetings to different peace stakeholders.
• Producing different peace-oriented animation videos for peace clubs at schools.


Health and Wellbeing

Problem #4: Low-cost home-use oxygen tank device powered using renewable sources

Collaborating Organization: AMPATH - Academic Model Providing Access To Healthcare
Country/Region of execution:   Kenya
Problem Statment: Pulmonology team at AMPATH has highlighted the need for a low-cost home-use oxygen tank device that is also easily powered using renewable sources. This seems to be a major issue on the ground for patients with respiratory ailments.
There is a strong on-the-ground team who will be willing to work with Purdue Engineering to solve this.

Problem #5: Face authentication system for mother and child health in India and/or Bluetooth operated Health monitoring device 

Collaborating Organization: Khushi Baby
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Develop an accurate face authentication system for mothers and children such that the facial biometric template can be stored within 1 kilobyte of data. Additionally, a device that can perform hemoglobin, blood sugar, urine albumin, urine sugar, blood pressure, fetal heart rate (and as a bonus: asymptomatic bacteriuria) with CE certified censors with a Bluetooth device that costs < $100 USD will be very helpful towards attaining better maternal and child health indicators.

Problem #6: Models to predict health behaviors for maternal and child health

Collaborating Organization: Khushi Baby
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Develop machine-learned models to predict health behaviors and health outcomes during maternal and child health from a data set that contains missing data and manipulated data

Problem #7: Solutions to tackle Anemia in South Asia

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Myanmar and South / South East Asia
Problem Statment: Anemia is a big problem in Bangladesh and Cambodia and some studies have shown that the problem is not as a result of low iron-deficiency since there is relatively high iron in the groundwater. Some research in India have found some women with appropriate levels of iron but with high anemia levels. This could lead to the conclusion that their status is a result of something else other than iron deficiency. Could it be genetic Hb disorder?
Since the real cause of anemia is not clear, it does not help to promote iron-rich foods. This calls of a process or study that can be helpful in understanding the cause of anemia. Perhaps research on genetic HB disorder? Understanding the real cause of anemia is important in designing relevant solutions. 

Problem #8:  Sensor technologies for real time monitoring of mosquito populations through heat maps

Collaborating Organization: RICH - Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Many countries world over face the burden of vector borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue etc. It is especially rampant in India. As per World Malaria Report 2018, India is one of the top countries with malaria burden. About 9.5 million malaria cases report in 2017. The Report also noted that 1.25 billion Indians--94% of its population--are still at risk of malaria.  Countries with severe malaria grew 1.3% lower per year, and a 10% reduction in malaria was associated with 0.3% higher growth per year. The potential upside of eradicating one mosquito borne disease, Malaria, by 2040 is enormous: 11 million lives and $2 trillion dollars of economic impact.
One of the major causes favouring mosquito population are large water bodies. These provide a haven for mass breeding of mosquitoes. Further impact of interventions is also limited due to lack of proper real time data of mosquito population. Traditional method in Hyderabad involves Entomological Field Assistants manually capturing adult mosquitoes using an aspirator and testing for species type in labs. This method is difficult to undertake due to staff shortages in Hyderabad municipality. Further, since data is not real time it results in reducing the impact of interventions.
Technologies providing solutions to tackle lack of real time data on adult mosquito density, species identification are of dire need. Also resolving the challenge of insufficient data on mosquito types, count, larva count, gender etc. It is critical to develop a way to Generate Heat maps showing distribution of mosquito density across city. This heat maps and real time data will allow for prediction of diseases like Dengue, malaria etc. using mosquito breeding patterns, resulting in better disease management strategies

Problem #9:  Low cost solution for Glaucoma detection

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, it affects 60 million people worldwide and in most of the cases it goes undiagnosed until the advanced stages. This leads to irreversible vision loss and results in blindness. Currently, fundus photography (Photograph of the retina) and tonometry (eye pressure) are used to screen for Glaucoma. However, these cannot be used in rural populations and even if the devices are available, they require trained staff to operate them. Furthermore, even if their results are indicative of Glaucoma, they are not sufficient and they merely check the structure of the eye. Therefore, in order to check the function of eye visual field perimeters are required that are portable, easy to use and affordable.

Problem #10:  Timely detection of intracranial bleeding

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Research shows that victims of road accidents, falls, violence or natural calamities could sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), leading to disruption in the normal functioning of the brain. In India, nearly 1.5 – 2 million people are injured, and 1 million die annually, due to TBI and it is predicted to surpass several diseases as a major cause of death and disability by 2020. Timely detection of intracranial bleeding can significantly reduce the burden of TBIs. However, lack of availability of CT/MRI scans everywhere severely limits fast screening onsite. In the absence of this, a neurological exam is conducted in the hospital, which delays the detection and is a subjective examination and a poor indicator of hematoma, thereby, impacting the survival rate as well as post-surgery outcomes. There is no easy way of detecting an intracranial hemorrhage to triage the patients at an early stage. This delay in detection of intracranial bleed especially in closed head injuries that often leads to permanent disability or mortality.


Environment / Energy

Problem #11:  Monitoring Air Pollution and Pollution Control

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Technologies for real time monitoring & reporting of Air Pollution Level Indicators are important in understanding the state of health of the city. We need innovations that can measure and monitor road dust and use of debris in building and construction practices.  Such solutions and technology can be used by Innovative minded and progressive municipal bodies and governance systems to record and analyze data pertaining to air pollution for evidence-based policy making.

Problem #12:  Monitoring fluctuations in power grid for renewable energy

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Despite the rise of renewable sources of power, the power grid continues to depend upon base-load thermal power plants. The power grid cannot tolerate sudden fluctuations which come with renewable sources of energy. A solution towards this is needed.

Problem #13:  Small Scale / household biodiesel processing in Africa

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   East Africa
Problem Statment: Most of the poor rural population that World Concern is serving live in marginal areas that are off grid. This population face numerous poverty challenges including energy. The cost of cooking fuel is prohibitive and unaffordable to the majority. Consequently, the poor use wood as the main source of fuel for their cooking. This has led to massive destruction of forests with an impact to the global and local climate, land productivity, and extinction of some of the species, environment, and regional and household’s economy. The topic of biodiesel has been there for a long time. However, there is no solution for poor households living in remote areas. Being able to process biodiesel at an affordable cost could reverse the current destruction of forest cover and increase greatly the fight against climate change. This could only happen if poor households had a portable machinery that would enable them process biodiesel from crops/plants they grow such as jatropha or jojoba which survives very well in dry places. The two plants in particular produces seeds with very high oil content.

Problem #14:  Cow dung fuel

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   East Africa
Problem Statment: The problem that the project seeks to address is the reduction of cutting of trees for firewood in ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Land) areas. Most communities who live in ASAL areas are pastoralists who mainly keep cows, shoats and camels in large numbers. This means large quantities of animal waste (dung) is disposed of daily and can be used to make fuel for cooking. In these communities, livestock dung is burnt or just left to be swept away by floods when it rains. The project seeks to find ways of using the animal dung in a bid to produce energy/heat for domestic use. Use of improved technologies to produce fuel from dung will protect the fragile environment, provide cost effective means of cooking and above all it may be a source of income for the households involved in making of fuel from the dung.

Problem #15:  Upcycling and recycling/ Waste to value

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Innovations and technologies in waste to value to alleviate the burden on landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable circular economy. Any technology to recycle/reuse plastic waste, or dis-integrate it in a manner that alleviates the need for landfills.


Agriculture / Food Security

Problem #16: An Intelligent Early Warning System for Crop Diseases in Rice Cropping System

Collaborating Organization: National Rice Research Institute (NRRI)
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Plant pests and diseases account for approximately 40% of the attainable yield loss to global rice production. India has the largest acreage devoted to rice production but bacterial blight disease has the potential to cause a huge impact on sustenance of small-scale farmer as the disease quickly spread to large areas causing up to 30% yield loss. National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), Cuttack, needs support in developing design criteria and evaluating prototype of an intelligent early warning system for bacterial blight affecting the rice cropping system.
Technologies like a) web-enabled, low-cost, in-field sensors for real-time collection of weather/farm/plant health data and its storage on cloud platforms, b) AI/ML models to recognize crop abnormalities in early stages, c) user-friendly mobile application with regional language support to deliver advance alerts to farmers on a range of plant diseases, pest infestations and micro climatic stress factors are potential solutions. Current approaches rely on computer vision based analytic techniques that uses visual cues and emphasize “post-facto” detection of diseases, thereby, limiting famer’s ability to timely control crop damage. Support is needed towards collaborating with Purdue expert in brainstorming to conceptualize outline of the proposed system by considering Indian production practices and develop a grant proposal for funding considerations by Indian/International agencies for developing and implementing an Intelligent Early Warning System for Crop Diseases in Rice Cropping System.
Other notes: Only travel grant is required (approx.: $3,500)

Problem #17:  Inconsistent rain /high cost of irrigation and greenhouse farming

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Middle East / East Africa/Asia
Problem Statment: Changing weather patterns has led to even more unpredictable rains in many places around the world. For many communities in already water scarce countries, this is devastating. There is a gap between affordable technologies to have agriculture less dependent on these rains. Irrigation and greenhouse technology is often expensive, especially as many of these communities are far away from a water source. Finding more affordable, accessible solutions for water for agriculture is needed

Problem #18: Solutions for declining food production

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Myanmar
Problem Statment: Food production at the household level is threatened by land and water scarcity, lack of technology and climate change related issues. Innovations on controlled production such as a combination of affordable greenhouses/tunnels, water management drip irrigation, hydroponics, etc. and creative ways of nutrient recycling (composting) would greatly boost per unit of land food production.

Problem #19:  Solutions for Food Storage and Transportation

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Bangladesh
Problem Statment: Usually, there is a very good harvest of rice, vegetables, onion, potatoes, chili and other spices in each of the three seasons in Bangladesh annually. Unfortunately, farmers sell almost all of their harvest due to lack of good storage and need for quick money. In some seasons, vegetables and potatoes rot on the fields. Farmers are then forced to purchase seeds at very high price during the next planting season! When the yield is in abundance, farmers are also forced to sells their produce at a low market price. Unfortunately, there are no cold storage systems for poor farmers in rural remote parts of Bangladesh where food grow in abundance. Moreover, electricity failures are frequent making electricity powered cold storage a challenge.
Transporting agricultural products to major cities is also a big challenge. The distances are long and usually blocked with long traffic jam. This leads to a lot of wastages of perishable agricultural products as they rot on their way to the markets. Is there a way of having affordable small-scale farm level cold storage facilities that could be powered by renewable energy? Is there a way of having an affordable cooler system that could be placed in a closed truck and removed when not needed?

Problem #20:  Rescuing the coconut economy

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Haiti
Problem Statment: For more than five years, farmers have watched helplessly the destruction of coconut palms and some citrus fruits such as lemon and orange trees, which constitute a major source of income for households. Almost the entire country faces this phenomenon. In the south-east, particularly in Jacmel, the coconut trees are drying while the other plants remain healthy. This situation is very worrying and requires special attention. The Ministry of Agriculture is aware of the problem since it affects almost the whole country but the causes are not yet identified. However, some coconut palms at the seaside in specific areas are not affected by the disease. The disease attacks the leaves first and then extends to the roots of the coconut palms. An in-depth study is needed to determine the real causes of the loss of coconut palms and citrus fruits. Farmers think it’s a result of climate change. If nothing is done, we will witness very soon the deterioration of the living conditions of the households and thus their economic situation will worsen further.

Problem #21:  Processing and other value adding technologies aren't affordable, portable, or easily operable/serviceable enough to benefit small and marginal farmers.

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Production tends to be extremely decentralized among small and marginal farmers, but processing, usually requires significant infrastructure, tends to be centralized. However, the logistics involved in moving produce to the site of processing and processing the goods themselves diminish ability of farmers to enhance their income by integrating with a value chain. Processing and value addition at the farm gate tend to be non-existent. Two reasons for this are the knowledge required to operate and the capital required to finance most machinery for processing and value addition far exceed the capacity of most small and marginal farmers. While discussions outlined the potential for farmers sharing access to processing machinery, it was noted that such solutions would have to be portable.

Problem #22:  More efficient trackable, quality-controlled transportation solutions that improves supply chain

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: There is demand from larger companies for contract farming arrangements with small and marginal farmers. However, the sheer costs of transportation, difficulty standardizing production, and opaque supply chains mean that small and marginal farmers find it difficult to turn contract farming into a sustainable enterprise. Opaque supply chains also create a barrier for any farmers trying to comply with the standards needed to benefit from export value chains and the product safety standards needed to benefit from national markets.

Problem #23:  Predictive and diagnostic solutions for crop protection / Disease diagnostics and treatment technologies that can be implemented by semi-trained personnel

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Although application-based interventions have attempted to deliver last mile farmers the knowledge they need to protect their crops from numerous calamities (whether they be biological, meteorological, or man-made), these interventions tend to fail when it comes to accessibly guiding farmers to the right advice when there is still enough time for that knowledge to make the most impact.

Problem #24:  Solution to combat crop residue burning

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Crop residue burning is a major contributor to air pollution in South Asia. While fossil fuel emissions in New Delhi account for 80 percent of the air pollution plume during the summer, emissions from biomass burning (such as crop residue burning) in neighboring regions rival those from fossil fuels during the fall and winter . The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecast and research service, SAFAR, had said, "An increase in stubble burning in the northern part of India has been observed. The circulation pattern is supportive for efficient biomass plume transport to Delhi," it had said in a report . Affordable technologies that can provide an alternative to crop residue burning would be a big step towards combating air pollution in most parts of the country. These solutions need to be efficient and affordable mechanisms to clear crop residue from the farms; innovative applications of residue that remunerative to farmers

Problem #25:  Low cost, easy-to-use farm mechanized tools in Kenya and India

Collaborating Organization: AMPATH, Kenya - Academic Model Providing Access To Healthcare (through BIGPIC - Bridging Income Generation with Group Integrated Care project) and N/Core, India
Country/Region of execution:   Kenya and India
Problem Statment: BIGPIC project of AMPATH in Kenya and N/Core in India (separately) have a need for low-cost, easy-to-use farm mechanized tools, and solar-powered systems. In the order of priority, the problem areas requiring technological innovation are tilling, planting, harvesting, spraying (pesticides), and irrigation, also pre-sowing and sowing. These tools and systems will be utilized by the farmer community groups to improve their incomes. Famer have highlighted a need for tools that can be easily attached to a vehicle like tractor, and preferably should also be available to use manually as well.
In Kenya, Corteva may be interested to liaising and be part of the committee if this problem is selected. However, at the moment there is no promise of funding from them. tools.


Education / Literacy

Problem #26:  Increasing literacy at primary level

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Laos
Problem Statment: Research has found that by increasing literacy at primary level, retention rate is also increased. Transitioning of student from one level to another has been a big challenge in Laos. Improving literacy at the primary level would therefore help many children continue with their education. One way of doing this is by promoting digitized based learning. Innovative approaches, digital solutions towards this will be extremely helpful. Perhaps App based learning for those at the elementary levels (1-5 classes) could be a potential solution


Water/ Waste management  / Water scarcity / Irrigation

Problem #27:  Segregation of municipal solid waste and Smarter Waste Management Supply Chain

Collaborating Organization: Social Alpha
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Technologies that can effectively and efficiently enable in-situ waste segregation are very much needed in India.  IOT solutions to make waste supply chains 'smarter' - enabling tracking, traceability, transparency across the waste collection, transportation and disposal supply chain are needed to create a better waste management system.

Problem #28: Develop Household level greywater management filtration system

Collaborating Organization: WaterAid
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Given the target of 100% coverage by 2024, the volume of greywater is likely to increase and therefore there is a dire need of scalable solution.  Greywater management in rural households is a major challenge in most cases this drained out into open causing major water logging in rural areas especially in roads and public places. The traditional solution for this has been to use it ground water recharging through to leach pit/ soak pit, although it’s done only in few places. It will be useful if a low-cost filtration attached with a collection mechanism can be developed which could convert the greywater into use for toilet cleaning/ flushing and other non-drinking domestic purposes.

Problem #29:  Affordable water meter at scale

Collaborating Organization: WaterAid
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: India has committed piped Drinking water supply for all by 2024. As per Government data current coverage is 18% in rural India. During the large-scale expansion one of the major challenges will be to ensure metering for all household connections which will be important for regulating water usage. Can there be technological solution which can introduce a large scale but affordable and reliable solution for metering especially for rural areas. Currently, pressure-based water meters are available in India at a price of INR1000 wherein solutions at a much lower price will be needed. Can we develop sensor based sustainable solution to meet this challenge?

Problem #30:  Develop electronic device /sensor to estimate the ground water recharge with Rain water Harvesting structures (RWH)

Collaborating Organization: WaterAid
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: In order to address water scarcity, Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS), Government of India has launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) from 1st July, 2019. It is important to undertake efforts for conservation, restoration, recharge and reuse of water. In this pursuit, WaterAid is participating actively in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) along with States/UTs/ Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to make water conservation measures a Jan Andolan by constructing and demonstrating RWH structures in some of the intervention Districts. The proposed innovation of low-cost electronic device/ sensor will support WaterAid in effectively demonstrating the impact of the RWH structures on rise of water level in the intervention areas.

Problem #31:  Develop sensor to address retrofitting need of Toilets under SBM

Collaborating Organization: WaterAid
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: While the Swatch Bharat Mission (SBM) of Govt. of India, has constructed large number of toilets in rural areas. One of the key findings of various studies is potential contamination of ground water due to closeness to the water bodies or water sources. Most of these assumptions are made on estimated vertical or horizontal distance to the water table or water sources. While these estimates are made on standards to know the actual horizontal and vertical distance to water table/ water sources will be very useful in order to understand whether there is a retrofitting need or not. Since a large-scale retrofitting initiative has been considered in India, and a significant proportion of the newly build 100 million toilets are indicative of retrofitting requirement based on standards. Such technological solution to understand the actual retrofitting need for the toilet substructure will be helpful in directing the resources only to those structures where retrofitting is essential. 

Problem #32:  Low cost pre-customized / Moulded DEWATS (Decentralized Waste Water Treatment System) for rural areas.

Collaborating Organization: WaterAid
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: There are many experimented DEWATs models used in wastewater management in rural India. Currently all parts of the systems are constructed locally, which results the completed structure not meeting design standards. By studying the models, if some section of the DEWATS system can be prefabricated, where the local masons need only to assemble the well-designed pre moulded parts and does not require high technical skills. With this innovation of low cost pre- customized/ moulded DEWATs model, the challenge of compromising the quality with faulty construction could be overcome. This can also overcome the challenge of lack of technical know –how for construction of DEWATs in rural areas which affects the working of system with desirable quality results.

Problem #33:  Water extraction and onsite treatment for water from water pans

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Kenya and Eastern Africa
Problem Statment: There are many methods for water extraction from ponds, but they are not being used in rural Kenya, where people draw and drink water directly from water pans. We could jointly investigate locally-acceptable means for drawing water for human consumption from man-made water pans as well as exploring options for onsite treatment. Or potentially investigate options for design of side-by-side collection areas, one for humans and one for animals.

Problem #34:  Improving Sanitation / Cheaper and affordable toilet facilities

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Laos
Problem Statment: Open defecation is a big problem in rural Laos where affordability and access to sanitation hardware is a big challenge to majority of the poor population. Providing affordable safe sanitation facilities would be critical in making these villages become open-defecation free (ODF). This will also reduce spread of water borne diseases and mortality rates.

Problem #35:  Solutions for drinking water

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   South and East Asia
Problem Statment: In many countries where World Concern works, there are high levels of metals such as arsenic, lead, and fluoride in water. Unfortunately, available water filters are not able to remove heavy metals. Contamination with high levels of arsenic, for example, is of great concern because it causes a number of human health effects. Several epidemiological studies have reported a strong association between arsenic exposure and increased risks of both carcinogenic and systemic health effects. These includes cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease, developmental anomalies, neurologic and neuro-behavioral disorders, diabetes, hearing loss, portal fibrosis, hematologic disorders (anemia, leukopenia and eosinophilia) and carcinoma. Arsenic exposure affects virtually all organ systems including the cardiovascular, dermatologic, nervous, hepatobiliary, renal, gastro-intestinal, and respiratory systems. Research has also pointed to significantly higher standardized mortality rates for cancers of the bladder, kidney, skin, and liver in many areas of arsenic pollution. Finding ways to eliminate arsenic in water would be a great innovation that will save many lives and reduce morbidity.

Problem #36:  Desalination of water in arid and semi-arid areas

Collaborating Organization: World Concern
Country/Region of execution:   Kenya
Problem Statment: The arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya are characterized by unpredictable and low rainfall that is coupled with high evaporation and frequent drought cycles. The water sources in these regions are water pans, seasonal rivers and shallow wells which are limited in number and eventually dry up in the event of a prolonged dry spell. Drilling of boreholes would be the better option but the water table is very deep and the water that usually comes out after drilling is saline. Salinity and sodicity problems are common in ASAL areas. Notable is that the issue of salinity has seriously limited the possibility of drilling boreholes. The water available in the water pans is also not clean as it has to be shared with wild animals. Generally, salinity distorts the taste of water; causes prolonged wetness and lack of surface cover hence increasing the vulnerability of soils to erosion; and reduced quality of the natural environment. There is dire need to come up with affordable and effective solution to remove salt from bore holes and wells, which will make water safe for human consumption. Availability of affordable and effective water treatment facilities will encourage partners to support drilling of more boreholes, hence reduce cases of migration as people move in search of water. Reduced migration will make development programming easier and more effective and at the same time guaranteeing clean and safe water to the vulnerable populations. 

Problem #37: Operation and maintenance of piped water supply

Collaborating Organization: WaterAid
Country/Region of execution:   India
Problem Statment: Operation and maintenance of piped water supply is a major challenge in scale that India is soon going to face. As a potential technological solution to aid the situation it may be useful to think about sensors that can identify and suggest leakage in the pipeline, overflows or blockage which would support the maintenance team to locate the exact spaces/place where the repair work should focus on. Placing such technologies as part of the installation of piped water supply will be a useful value addition for ensuring proper and economic intervention for operation and maintenance