Note: We wanted to highlight another great project that NASA is supporting under the leadership of the World Bank. You see, the issues involved in insuring a clean water supply in less-developed countries aren’t so different from the issues we face insuring a clean water supply on the Space Station or on other planets. Interested in potential solutions in the water sector? Wonder how NASA and other government agencies can apply their data and the experience to help make the world a better place? Want to know more about how you can participate? ALL kinds of expertise is useful. Read on… and come join us!

What’s a hackathon? A hackathon event is an intensive marathon of brainstorming and programming, where software developers and designers collaborate to create new tools for solving a set of problems.

What is WaterHackathon? WaterHackathon is a hackathon dedicated to hacking problems related to water-related issues, such as:

  • access to  safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
  • flooding and drought (i.e., climate change issues)
  • irrigation and watershed management
  • environmental pollution

Why a hackathon dedicated to water? Water is essential to sustain life and economic development, yet the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation remains daunting.

  • 2.6 billion without sanitation (of whom 1.1 billion are still defecating in the open).
  • Nearly one billion without access to safe drinking water.

Diseases related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation are the biggest single challenges in global public health today.

  • Health studies have shown that 80% of all diseases in the world are water-related.
  • Children are especially vulnerable to health risks; the majority of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five.
  • More children die of diarrhea than of AIDs, malaria and TB combined.

The sustainable management of water resources has also acquired a new urgency in the face a global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, increased food demands, and increased hydrological variability caused by climate change.

  • Irrigation produces around half of the world’s food and accounts for about three quarters of water withdrawals worldwide.
  • Water scarcity will affect at least 30% of the world’s population in 2050.
  • Climate change exacerbates flood and drought challenges as it makes water resources harder to manage, and increases risk and uncertainty.

New ideas, better, open data and innovative tools are needed to respond to this global water crisis. In search of just that, the World Bank and partners are joining forces in order to seed a new community of software developers, designers and water experts to (1) identify critical global challenges and project specific problems in order to (2) develop technological tools to help respond to them.

When and where is the WaterHackathon? The two-day marathon hacking event will take place October 21 – 23, 2011, with multiple global locations bringing together software developers to hack on real-world water problems.  Confirmed sites include: Bangalore, Cairo, Kampala, London, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, and Washington, DC. See waterhackathon.org for more information on individual sites.

On Twitter, organizers and participants will be sharing real-time updates using the hashtag #waterhack. Follow @randomhacks and @WSPWorldBank — join in the conversation!

Who is behind the WaterHackathon? WaterHackathon is organized by the World Bank and Water and Sanitation Program, along with technology partners from NASA and Random Hacks of Kindness and dedicated local partner organizations in each event site. Random Hacks of Kindness is a partnership between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, HP, NASA and the World Bank.  WaterHackathon is supported by the Water Partnership Program.

Who can participate in the hacking? We invite programmers, software designers, GIS specialists, social media experts, graphic designers, translators, along with experts in water-related issues and water users to register at rhok.org/events.

How can non-hackers get involved?  Do you have a water-related problem that needs solving? Share it with us. We need water experts and water users from around the world to submit their problems. While not all these problems will lend themselves to technology solutions, we believe documenting pressing local water problems is the first step to breaking down barriers for non-traditional partners. For those problems that do get solved, we will share the solutions and support teams in getting their applications deployed. See examples of water problems.



About Ali

Community Advocate

NASA Headquarters

alicia.llewellyn-1@nasa.gov