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Mobile and web apps tackle sanitation challenges

23 April 2013

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According to the World Bank, one in three people do not have access to toilet facilities.

Mobile phone and web applications that enable people to talk to local policymakers and allow children to learn through games have won a competition for technological innovations that address sanitation problems in developing countries.

One in three people today have no toilet and the global economic losses due to lack of access to sanitation amount to US$260 billion a year, according to the World Bank.

The three winners of the World Bank's Sanitation App Challenge were announced on Friday (19 April) during the 2013 Spring Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, United States. Representatives from each team were invited to the event and are now on a week-long tour of Silicon Valley, California.

The three apps — mSchool, SunClean and Taarifa — were chosen from ten finalists announced last month (22 March). The winners were chosen by a combination of public votes and scrutiny by a group of tech experts and World Bank members.

One judge, Jesse Shapiro, the water, sanitation and hygiene adviser of the US Agency for International Development, tells SciDev.Net that each app was assessed on its originality, quality of user interface, technical feasibility, economic viability, how it tackles an identified problem and the team effort involved in its development.

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