Stanley Chindikani Msiska, a PhD student at Stellenbosch University (SU)’s faculty of engineering has developed a water digital application which saw him come third from Camp 2030 competition in New York, USA. Msiska’s application provides information about water quality in water supply systems. Camp 2030 is a project of Unite 2030, a non-profit global youth community aiming to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030.
The competition provides a platform for around 250 young innovators from 61 countries to pitch solutions for sustainable development. Unite 2030 believes young people have a critical role to play in helping achieve the SDGs, particularly in the face of the global challenges such as poverty, injustice, inequality, climate change and water and sanitation.
The application is called ‘’Maji’ in Tumbuka, a language spoken by an ethnic group in Northern Malawi and one of its unique features is the ability to use colour-coded tracking of the status of the water on a map. It has a window, explained Msiska, which displays something like a map with different currents. Red current denotes the water system is not fine, yellow means the water systems are under maintenance. If it looks black, it means there is no water and green means all is fine.
Bringing water closer to people
Asked what inspired the application ‘Maji’, Msiska said he came up with the project to bring water closer to billions of people globally who do not have access to clean water while millions also die from water-borne diseases. Said Msiska about his achievement: “I’m overwhelmed that my innovation was selected by the judges as a winning solution. This is the news that I worked very hard for and hoped for. I thank the Lord even more because this is the kind of success that is going to transform the lives of millions of people who live in despair and suffering.”
Support for implementing the app
Participants were divided into 36 mixed groups focusing on different innovations for SDG challenges and Msiska’s group came up with the Maji website application. The app forms part of his postgraduate engineering studies at SU with focus on existing water quality maintenance challenges in Lilongwe, Malawi – his home country. This is where the app will be first implemented. Msiska is also a lecturer in chemical engineering at the Malawian University of Technology and Sciences.
Msiska’s team members were Ashley Wunsch (Canada), Felipe Contreras (Mexico), Muskaan Waraich (Canada) and Inbar Erez (Israel). The team and Unite 2030 are supporting Msiska to implement his innovation. “What captivates me even more is looking at how people and institutions are excited about the innovation and support its implementation,” said Msiska.
He withheld details about how Maji will work because the patent has not been registered yet. However, he disclosed that the Maji web app will operate on smartphones, computers and even through text messages if there is no internet. Msiska said that this innovation will also address the challenge of unemployment. “The digital platform will create jobs because community members will be employed for data collection about water and systems. He said he will be engaging with stakeholders in implementing Maji and added he needs further support as the implementation will require more resources.
Msiska’s web application will also bring a welcome relief to Africa where most countries face severe droughts and water scarcity exacerbated by the climate change. According to experts involved in the sector, there are three basic facts to note about water scarcity on the African continent. These are: