Botswana Speaks blog

Sanitation wins at the MEST-UNICEF Hackathon

According to an article published on TechyAfrica, for those who have been following tech events in Ghana over the past week, you are aware of the MEST UNICEF Hackathon, which happened at MEST from the 15th – 17th January. It was the largest gathering of techies I had seen since the DevCongress conference. You couldn’t tell whether it was for social good, since it was a UNICEF collaboration, or for the GHC 5000 cash prize.

Over the next 3 days, it was all about forming teams, coming up with ideas, hacking and finally pitching the solutions.


The first day passed as teams formed related to the problem sets presented. In total, there we about 26 teams on the first day, tackling the following problem sets:

  1. Technology to improve birth registration (7 teams)
  2. Knowing your rights (2 teams)
  3. Showcasing the best (and highlighting the worst) Districts in Ghana (3 teams)
  4. Tracking Child Friendly Schools (5 teams)
  5. Monitoring sanitation in communities (3 teams)
  6. Making sure school children get the BEST toilets (1 team)
  7. Improving information flow for safe water (1 team)
  8. Quick reporting for emergencies (4 teams)

For each of the problem sets, UNICEF gave current solutions they had come up with. The real task was coming up with more technology-related ideas they could implement to solve these teething social issues. On the second and third days, teams continued with building the products as the ideas become more clearer, and the Friday afternoon deadline kept approaching.

On Friday afternoon, the pitches began at 2.30 pm on the dot! You would expect that because there were 26 teams pitching and demoing! Most of the solutions centered on USSD, SMS, IVR & J2ME applications considering the fact that most rural dwellers in Ghana are still on feature phones, and some don’t even speak English. Generally, most solutions were practical.

At 5.45pm, after 23 teams pitched (yep, some of the teams didn’t pitch their solutions), and with constructive feedback from the judges, the time had come! It took about 45 mins for the judges to deliberate who the winner was.

At 6.30pm, winners were announced. Team SIS – Sanity in Sanitation came in first position, BirthWatch in 2nd place, and SkuulCheck in third place. As the prizes already stated, TeamSIS won GHC 5000 cash, BirthWatch GHC 2500, and SkuulCheck GHC 1000.

Sanity In Sanitation

A grading system to help Environmental Health Assistants collect data using questionnaires and a data analysis platform that displays responses from the various communities / districts via mapping technologies. This is also aided by  community based sanitation campaigns.

Read more on TechyAfrica

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