Accelerating Sanitation for All in Asia and the Pacific (Nepal Project). ADB Sanitation Hackathon is an exciting event that brings together innovators from across Nepal to leverage technology, creativity, and teamwork to develop technological solutions aimed at improving the safety and dignity of sanitation workers in the country. This Hackathon is part of a broader Technical Assistance of ADB program that seeks to accelerate sanitation for all in Asia and the Pacific, with Nepal being one of the participating countries.
The goal of this Hackathon is to identify a start-up company with innovative ideas or technological solutions that can improve the health, safety, wellbeing, and working conditions of sanitation workers in Nepal. Through a competitive selection process, we will identify a start-up that will work closely with the project management office (PMO) at the Government of Nepal, Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DWSSM) and other stakeholders to innovate, develop, and pilot technological solutions that will transform the existing situation of sanitation work in Nepal into a dignified profession.
The Hackathon being jointly organized by ADB, DWSSM and the Faculty of Technology at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), Khumaltar and with the event management support of Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) will feature a variety of activities, including pre-selection and short-listing of potential innovators, orientation sessions, on-site innovative idea pitching, local innovation design demonstrations, and a modern technology identification boot camp. The event will take place over the course of one month, and innovators from across Nepal are encouraged to participate. Travel and basic logistics will be supported for those short-listed to attend.
The jury for the Hackathon will be composed of experts from various sectors of STI (science and tech innovation), sanitation management, and business development. The winning start-up will have the opportunity to work closely with the delegated ADB staff, PMO, expert consultants (social engineer and sociologist) for the project, municipal officials, elected representatives, sanitation workers themselves in addition to the prestigious organizations having unique identity in innovation including NAST and RAN - towards technological development and transfer and through pilot demonstrations targeting the safety and dignity of sanitation workers in two towns of Nepal, namely Nepalgunj and Bharatpur.
We believe that this Hackathon will help complement in addressing the broader goals of the Technical Assistance project of fulfilling the critical gaps related to the protection of sanitation workers in Nepal, including inadequate policies, lack of training pathways, and a lack of capacity among sanitation workers and service providers. By identifying innovative solutions that bring dignity to sanitation workers and promote their safety and wellbeing, we can transform sanitation work into a dignified profession and improve the lives of those who work tirelessly to provide essential services to our communities. The project is eventually aimed at developing a knowledge product on “Empowering Sanitation Workers of Nepal” vis-a-vis necessary BCC, training and capacity building activities where the selected Startup Company/s would also contribute their part of innovation.
We look forward to your participation in the ADB Sanitation Hackathon and to the evidence-based innovative ideas and technological solutions that will emerge from this exciting event. To this end, ADB also plans to support a basic expense towards model preparation for the shortlisted companies and their travel/logistics associated with Hackathon participation.
The objective of this Hackathon is to provide a platform for individuals and teams to showcase their creativity and technical skills by developing innovative solutions that address real-world problems. Through collaboration and innovation, participants will have the opportunity to create meaningful solutions that have the potential to make a positive impact on society. Additionally, the Hackathon aims to foster a community of like-minded individuals who are passionate about using technology for social good and encourage them to continue their work in the field of sanitation and making a STI friendly ecosystem in Nepal and the region, beyond the Hackathon.
The sanitation workers in Nepal are a neglected group who are at the lowest end of the sanitation value chain. They are frontline workers who provide essential services but their safety and dignity needs are often ignored. The “Accelerating Sanitation for All in Asia and the Pacific” Technical Assistance (TA) program introduces ADB Sanitation Hackathon that aims to enhance the safety and dignity of sanitation workers in Nepal, followed by a prior action research in the field through expert consultants that involved identification of the policy and technological gaps and a baseline study, through identification of a start-up company or JV of startup companies with innovative solutions and designing pilot projects to target their safety and dignity. Overall the project is focused on bringing dignity and ensuring safety of sanitation workers in Nepal by introducing innovative solutions and modern equipment that have been implemented in other parts of the world. The Hackathon will provide an opportunity for innovators to develop and pilot technological solutions that can transform sanitation work into a dignified profession.
The following are the general problems and issues that the Hackathon is expected to contribute in support of the overall goal to accelerate sanitation for all in Nepal (Also see the TOR for the Startup Company to be more specific on the technological aspects and targeting sanitation workers):
Lack of access to improved sanitation facilities in rural areas of Nepal, which leads to open defecation and unsafe disposal of human waste.
Limited awareness and education about proper sanitation and hygiene practices among communities, especially in rural areas.
Insufficient infrastructure and resources to support proper sanitation and wastewater management, including inadequate sanitation facilities in schools and health facilities.
Inadequate funding and investment in sanitation and hygiene initiatives, leading to slow progress in achieving universal access to improved sanitation and hygiene and SDG 6.
Transforming the situation of engagement of women, girls, and marginalized communities in sanitation and hygiene initiatives in addressing inequalities and discrimination.
Poor sanitation and wastewater management in urban areas, leading to environmental pollution and public health risks.
Limited data and monitoring systems to track progress and identify gaps in sanitation and hygiene services and infrastructure.
Unavailability of proper technology and tools for the sanitation workers in Nepal, including high temperature regions of Bharatpur and Nepalgunj.
Addressing the projected gap with limited sanitation workers in our cities in the future thanks to the education and other opportunities for the children of current workers is a serious issue and only technological intervention can fulfill this gap.
Some expected outcomes of the Hackathon includes:
Development of innovative solutions: The Hackathon will result in the development of innovative solutions that can help accelerate sanitation for all in Nepal. These solutions could be in the form of robotic equipment, innovative work based tools, web-based tools, mobile applications, innovative PPE for high temperature regions or other digital/physical platforms that can help address some of the challenges identified in the project document.
Increased engagement: The Hackathon could help increase engagement by attracting more participants and generating more interest in the sanitation sector and tech intervention. This could lead to increased awareness and adoption of the solutions developed during the Hackathon.
Collaboration and partnerships: The Hackathon could also provide an opportunity for collaborations and partnerships with other organizations working on similar projects in Nepal. This could lead to the exchange of ideas and resources, as well as the development of new networks and partnerships, and overall a STI friendly ecosystem in Nepal and the region.
Validation of the project: The Hackathon could serve as a platform to validate the project document by testing the assumptions and hypotheses made in the document. This could help refine the project strategy and ensure that it is aligned with the needs and priorities of the target audience.
Use of Robotics and Automation: The use of robotics and automation to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of sanitation services and dignity of sanitation workers in Nepal, which is crucial for achieving the goal of sanitation for all in the country.
It is noted that while the Hackathon is targeted for Startups featuring various expert team members with engineering and business degrees and experiences and their assistants as stipulated in the TOR for the Startup Company who would submit their ideas/response to ToR and get shortlisted to attend the Hackathon with their evidence-based ideas such as models and simulations, it has been lately decided that this event should also promote undergraduate and school-level science and engineering/technology students and encourage them to submit their ideas through a separate category. However, the latter do not necessarily qualify for the Startup grant but still the best ideas coming from this category may receive special recognition and support.