Barclays’ Rise hosts Cape Town water hackathon

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Barclays Africa’s Rise innovation hub in Cape Town has hosted a water hackathon to help harness the power of technology, innovation and collaboration in finding solutions to the water crisis in South Africa’s Western Cape province.

Two consecutive years of drought have severely reduced stream flows into the dams of the Western Cape Water Supply Scheme, according to the City of Cape Town, which has said that the dams are likely to reach “extremely low levels” by the onset of the 2017 winter.

As part of efforts to find solutions, Rise hosted a hackathon in conjunction with Woolworths Holdings, convening industry experts, policymakers, conservationists, students, community members, scientists and engineers.

“We are using the Rise co-creation platform to help bring people from various organisations and communities closer so that we can collectively tackle our biggest societal challenges and drive mass implementation of solutions,” said Yasaman Hadjibashi, chief creation officer at Barclays Africa Group.

“At Rise, we strongly believe that the most powerful way of finding solutions is to bring together the most diverse people, who would not ordinarily cross paths.”

Justin Smith, head of sustainability at Woolworths, said his company considered water as a critical input to its products, whether it is food or clothing.

“The efficient use of water is of utmost importance to enable the business to do what it does. I believe there is no one entity than can single-handedly come up with a solution to the water crisis we face, but that it is rather through collaborative efforts by stakeholders from all sectors that we’ll find workable solutions,” he said.

Participants in the hackathon event were challenged to generate solutions to improve agricultural, industrial and residential water consumption.

The winning idea, proposed by Water Surge, is to create an online and mobile public campaign that uses gamification and integrated social media to encourage behaviour shifts.

“This is an innovation that could really help drive water saving behaviour change across Cape Town, and could potentially be implemented in a short timeframe,” said City of Cape Town water and energy efficiency strategist Sarah Rushmere.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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