Wa­ter-wise trio off to Swe­den

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Su­laiman Philip

mok­gotho Te­mogelo Thami, Mmola Des­mond Ku­tullo and Nk­wane Wayne Luka have flown to Stock­holm, Swe­den, to rep­re­sent South Africa at the an­nual World Wa­ter Week.

The grade 11 pupils at Le­beko Se­nior Sec­ondary School in Pha­l­aborwa were the na­tional win­ners of the SA Youth Wa­ter Prize, held in Pre­to­ria in June, and qual­i­fied to rep­re­sent South Africa at the Stock­holm Ju­nior Wa­ter Prize.

This pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion is open to com­peti­tors be­tween the ages of 15 and 20 from 30 coun­tries. Win­ners are cho­sen on the level of in­no­va­tion their so­lu­tions show and the en­vi­ron­men­tal, sci­en­tific, so­cial or tech­no­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of their re­search or de­sign.

The ob­jec­tives of the com­pe­ti­tion are to raise aware­ness of the im­por­tance of con­serv­ing and pro­tect­ing nat­u­ral re­sources.

The SA Youth Wa­ter Prize is a De­part­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion (DWS) ed­u­ca­tional out­reach project called 2020 Vi­sion for Wa­ter Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gramme.

Be­yond its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Stock­holm Wa­ter Foun­da­tion, the de­part­ment has part­nered with the De­part­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy to re­spond to the chal­lenge of scarce skills.

Ini­tia­tive and in­no­va­tion

South Africa has won the Stock­holm Ju­nior Wa­ter Prize com­pe­ti­tion twice – in 2003 and 2005.

Judges have been gen­er­ally im­pressed by the qual­ity of South African en­trants. South African en­tries, judges have pointed out, have al­ways matched in­ter­na­tional en­trants in terms of in­no­va­tion. How­ever, as a judge points out, “They are more fo­cused on lo­cal is­sues, and more prac­ti­cally ori­ented than many of the other coun­tries’ en­trants.”

Their win­ning in­no­va­tion, a de­vice to help schools and their com­mu­nity to save wa­ter, also won them full bur­saries from the DWS. Win­ners who ac­cept the full bur­sary prize are en­cour­aged to fol­low a ca­reer path in a wa­ter sec­tor-re­lated field.

Us­ing a two-part sys­tem, the de­vice dis­charges wa­ter when needed and only for a set time. The young in­no­va­tors also added soak-away ma­te­rial to ab­sorb leak­ing wa­ter that is then re­turned to the wa­ter tank.

The South African learn­ers’ pro­to­type sys­tem was built with do­nated ma­te­ri­als or sup­plies res­cued from the trash.

On their re­turn from Swe­den, the Le­beko pupils will get to meet busi­ness and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ners who can turn their pro­to­type into mar­ket-ready prod­ucts.

Mok­gotho Te­mogelo Thami, Mmola Des­mond Ku­tullo and Nk­wane Wayne Luka are rep­re­sent­ing South Africa at the an­nual World Wa­ter Week in Stock­holm, Swe­den.

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