Hackathon to explore ideas for safety of sanitation workers

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By A Staff Reporter,Lalitpur, Mar. 31: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DoWSSM) are organising a hackathon for start-up companies to find ideas for the safety and dignity of sanitation workers. 

The event - Accelerating Sanitation for All in Asia and the Pacific (Nepal Project) - will be organised from April 27-29 this year at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) which is the co-host of the project. 

A portal is launched for the hackathon at a press meet organised at the NAST in Khumaltar on Thursday. 

The hackathon will feature various activities such as pre-selection and short-listing of potential innovators, orientation sessions, on-site pitching of innovative ideas, local design demonstrations and a hackathon with mentorship session. The programme will run for one month. Travel and other basic expenses will be arranged for those selected top 10 participants to attend programme. 

This project aims at connecting all concerned innovators working in the sector across the country, said Dr. Rabindra Prasad Dhakal, Head of the Faculty of Technology at the NAST. There is a need to enhance the respect to and safety of sanitation workers, he said. 

According to the organisers, the goal of this hackathon is to identify start-up companies with innovative ideas or technological solutions that can improve the health, safety, welfare and working conditions of sanitation workers in Nepal. "Through a competitive selection process, we will identify a startup or joint venture of start-ups that will work closely with the project's expert consulting engineer, project management office and other stakeholders," said Dr. Er. Shankar Dhakal, Communication Focal Person of the project. 

The ADB is piloting the project in Bharatpur Metropolitan City and Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City. A team of expert would guide the inventors in their quest of technology in a marathon format. The proposed solutions should address the location, environment specific needs in Bharatpur and Nepalgunj cities. 

The 10 best startups will receive US$ 500 for the prototype development and the winners will receive as much as $40,000 grant for developing and piloting the production or solution that they proposed. 

Deputy Project Director of the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation (Sector) Project under the DoWSSM, Er. Tika Bahadur Dhaudhari, said that they hope that a pragmatic solution for the safety of sanitation workers could be found through the project. He also said that there is a need for better safety and respect for the sanitation workers. 

Er. Bikas Gurung, President of Robotics Association of Nepal, which is managing the event, said that it is a participant-oriented programme to find solution to an everyday problem. 

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