Crowdsourcing: a way to handle human waste during disasters
Earthquakes, tsunamis, flash floods and volcanic eruptions can displace huge populations quickly and without warning. In the aftermath, disaster victims tend to congregate at aid sites and nearby population centres and can rapidly overwhelm surviving sanitation infrastructure, leading to outbreaks of disease that often rival the impact of the initial disaster. Currently, few sustainable options exist for dealing with waste in these situations.
While natural disasters can’t be prevented, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) believes that better solutions to emergency relief are out there. HIF has joined forces with InnoCentive’s Global Solver Community — which reaches millions of diverse and creative problem solvers across the globe — to find a new, better way to contain or dispose of human waste during emergency response situations and, as a result, reduce health risks related to inadequate containment or decontamination.
The concept is simple, but the potential impact considerable. Recognising that great ideas for a cost-effective containment or decontamination method could come from anywhere (not just waste experts or aid agencies), InnoCentive and HIF have put out a Challenge to problem solvers across the globe: send us your best idea and you could win $15,000 (USD). The HIF will then work to disseminate these solution(s) across the humanitarian sector.
“The Humanitarian Innovation Fund is delighted to be working with InnoCentive to broaden the ideas available for solving some of the longstanding issues in humanitarian aid” said Ben Ramalingam, Chair of the HIF Strategy Group. “As crises like Haiti and Pakistan have showed, we face considerable challenges in sanitation, especially in urban settings. We are very keen to explore the potential for addressing these issues through tapping into new networks of problem solvers - hopefully this will be the first of many such collaborations.”
The challenge is posed to problem solvers worldwide who have until 3 July 2012 to develop a theoretical solution in the form of a written proposal. For full details of the Challenge please visit: www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933003.
Photo: Paul Keller