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This year, WaterAid Nicaragua has defined our four challenges:
Technical infrastructure: designing and building surface water intakes in highly unstable soils with photovoltaic pumping systems in remote areas
In the Caribbean region of Nicaragua there is abundant surface water in low lying streams and rivers, but it is difficult to get the water to remote villages. Photovoltaic (solar electric) pumping is often a solution, but the ground is prone to erosion and the solar panels open to theft.
The water flows are also highly variable between the rainy season (June-February) and the dry season (March-May), making a reliable supply more difficult.
Your challenge is first to design and construct robust intake works to successfully divert water out of the stream bed in highly erosive soils and second to cost effectively ensure the security of solar panels in remote locations so that they are not stolen causing the system to collapse.
Technical hardware and business solutions challenge: faecal sludge management business plan and equipment design
Onsite sanitation with small volume septic tanks is quickly becoming a popular solution in both rural and urban areas of the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. WaterAid Nicaragua has successfully developed a prototype, based on the rope pump, to manually extract highly liquid faecal sludge from existing tanks.
Your challenge is to come up with a business plan and pricing scheme for this service, to be sustainably managed and rolled out by micro-enterprise owners. The business plan must include the design of appropriate equipment to operate this service efficiently.
Technical software challenge: tracking hygiene promotion using household visits
One of the strategies we use for community-based behavior change is to recruit and train voluntary hygiene promoters in communities. These people conduct periodic household visits during the project cycle to evaluate whether the situation is positive or negative with respect to basic indicators, including handwashing, use of toilets, household water treatment, and solid waste. When the situation is considered positive, a happy water drop is placed on the monitoring board and when the situation needs improvement a sad water drop is placed on the chart. This approach can also be applied in school classrooms, and with a focus on maternal and child health.
Your challenge is to design a mobile app that allows each promoter to digitally register their visits, with a picture of the promoter, reminders of when to conduct the next visit, and other features. This should provide an incentive for the hygiene promoters to report their visits (four per household over the project cycle) and register trends.
Design of a legal-finance framework for a hub for entrepreneurial initiatives for self-supply
WaterAid has launched a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) SMART Center to strengthen the supply chain for Smart Market-based Affordable and Repairable Technologies, such as rope pumps, water filters, inline chlorinators, onsite sanitation solutions, etc. The Center aims to demonstrate existing SMART solutions onsite; act as a hub to link clients and suppliers; incubate social entrepreneurs capable of developing the supply chains to reach hard to reach people; and provide technical support and micro-financing services.
Your challenge is to create a legal framework and financing mechanism whereby WaterAid and other NGOs provide technical assistance and oversight, but where the Center is autonomous and has a business plan for self-sufficiency based primarily on sales commissions from private sector suppliers of SMART solutions and the incubation of social entrepreneurs.
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