According to recent stats, Sub-Saharan Africa has the most number of water stressed (shortages of fresh water safe for human consumption) countries in the world. Predictions of increasing population and less rain paint are often used to paint a gloomy picture of the future, and earnest publications often raise the spectre of water shortages leading to wars in the not too distant.

Which is why it’s always good to see innovative ideas to help us use less of the stuff. Like the eco-friendly hand washing and showering bottle shower which has been chosen as one of the winners of the Standard Bank Water 4 Africa competition.

SpaTap is essentially a low cost plastic valve and sprinkler system designed to fit onto the top of a standard plastic bottle and release its liquid only when squeezed. Originally a Kickstarter project, it’s pitched as an idea for both rural villages and campers to build an instant bathroom with shower that doesn’t waste a single drop.

The money from Standard Bank is worth $10 000 (R124K)  for SpaTap to develop the idea and get into more markets. Other winners included $5 000 (R122K) for Zimbabwean solar powered water purification system MAJI 1200.

In addition, $2 000 (R25K) each was awarded for a solar powered water carrier and the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health) project in Tanzania.

A Ugandan project investigating water and waste management also won $2 000 of early stage funding.

Interestingly, Standard Bank used IdeaScale to run the competition. That’s a piece of software which it also uses internally to allow people to comment and vote on ideas, essentially crowdsourcing ways to make them better.

“Gone are the days of large organisations wanting to conceptualise, build and own all solutions themselves. This is largely due to the growing realisation that more innovative, and in many instances, market-ready solutions can be found by opening up the search for solutions to ‘the crowd’,” Standard Bank said in a statement.

[Image – CC Roger]