With the creation of a portable water purification module that seeks to benefit communities living in informal settlements in large cities in Colombia and Latin America, graduates of the Universidad Industrial de Santander won the e-Hackathon on water and sanitation in informal settlements in Latin America and the Caribbean 2022.
This competition, promoted by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was created to motivate young entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean to generate innovative ideas in water and sanitation. A total of 85 proposals from different countries were submitted, of which 30 were selected to move on to the final stage.
The ‘WS-22 team, made up of UIS graduates, was the winner with a proposal for a portable water purification module, adaptable to the conditions of the water source to be treated, with a sustainable operation that incorporates the use of alternative energies and advanced oxidation processes, which allows a low cost in its implementation, operation, and maintenance, in addition to excellent quality.
The team members are UIS graduates Andrés Felipe López Briceño, from Ingeniería Civil; Angélica María Cruz Forero, from Diseño Industrial; Isidro Ardila, from Ingeniería Química; Nohora Cristina Flórez, from the Specialization in Project Management and Evaluation, and David Santiago López Guzmán, an architect from the Universidad Piloto de Colombia.
“The pilot test will be carried out in the informal settlement ‘Villas de Girardot’, where approximately 3,600 people living in that area do not have access to drinking water. Together with the community leader, we approached the problem and found that they are supplied with water from mountain drains and an artisanal network built with recycled materials. The consumption of this raw water undoubtedly increases the number of water diseases in the inhabitants”, commented Industrial Design graduate, Angélica María Cruz Forero.
This project was the winner of the ‘drinking water’ challenge, together with another team from Brazil. As winners, they have already secured a place in the Latin American Edition of the Young Water Fellowship Program 2022, which includes a fully-funded training on business, water, and sanitation; in addition, they will receive 5,000 EUR of seed capital for the implementation of the project and mentoring with high-level experts during the year 2022.
“Without a doubt, for me, the most gratifying thing about participating with my team and winning is the opportunity we will have to generate positive impact in vulnerable communities and from my profession contribute to build territory and build the country, reducing inequalities and providing solutions to the main public health problem present in informal settlements, such as water diseases. We hope to scale it up and replicate it nationally and also impact rural communities in the future”, added Angélica María Cruz.