To mark National Water Week under the theme “Groundwater – making the invisible, visible”, young developers from across the country were mobilised to find actionable solutions for improving the quality of water.
South Africa celebrated Water Week from 21 – 27 March.
Organisers of the Water Hackathon included Empire Partner Foundation (EPF) and its innovation ecosystem and the Water Institute of South Africa,
The two-day Water Hackathon was organised to draw attention to the water quality issues in South African communities and find tech actionable and financially valid solutions for mitigating the problem.
A competition was held during the Water Hackathon and the eight-member team Hydro-Dynamics took first place for their app.
The desire for the EPF comes at a time the government is grappling with a myriad of water challenges.
As climate change worsens groundwater will become more critical and be looked at as an alternative water source in South Africa.
The hackathon provided the teams with a problem statement in terms of scope and tools for working.
The teams were mentored by numerous experts from environmental protection, business, information technology, and other fields such as the South African Water Chamber, where public-private participation and collaboration are catalysed.
Asked what the secrets of their success was, Hydro-Dynamics team leader Busiswa Mwelase said: “Perseverance and hard work really breeds positive Rewards”.
She added: “As a team, we are very happy that finally, we’ve won such a prestigious award.
“The team is really satisfied and happy with Winning this competitive hackathon.
“As the group leader, I am more than happy for my team’s achievement.”
Since 2016, the EPF has been working with developers with scalable ideas to create new solutions using technology that impact social change and increase sustainability.
Explaining their task, team Hydro-Dynamics member Siyanda Kunene said their app, Hydro Alert, provides a solution to the main problem of water leakages and slow response time.
“With water scarcity in South Africa and losing all that water, that’s how our inspiration and solution came about,” said Kunene.
The EPF has now set its sights on funding startups.
The tech non-profit entity is seeking to grow an ecosystem of African developers that use technology to improve communities on the continent.
During the water hack, Hydro-Dynamics provided a solution Hydro-alert, an application that assesses water quality and manages water consumption per household.
Hydro-Alert detects burst pipes and sends a detailed report with location and photo as evidence to the municipality.
It also provides a marketplace for repairs of products and allows accredited small businesses to be used for their service.
Hydro-Dynamic team leader Busiswa Mwelase said: “Our plan for the future is to start a business that will be able to improve Apps footprint”.
Mwelase added: “We want to establish a better environment through technology, our aim is continuously creating technological solutions in our country for a better standard of living.
“We want to empower the youth in tech entrepreneurship.
“We deem ourselves as an inspiration to young developers not to give up because there is always room for improvement.
“Through our journey with the hackathon, Teamwork is very essential in order to achieve one unique goal.
“Commitment and dedication from team members are a good sign of victory.
“Our journey indicates that failure is part of learning, look where we are now.”
For Pule Mokoena, EPF chairperson, the two-day event was more than a hackathon.
The NPO has created a learning platform to empower the youth.
“We aim to develop hackathon winners into tech-prenuers that build businesses with socio-economic impact,” says Mokoena.
“In this way, we are able to make a meaningful contribution towards reducing unemployment by fostering self-employment.”