Contamination of coastal waters with sewage affects the livelihoods of those in coastal communities. There is a lack of awareness and understanding about this issue. Without awareness, there is no incentive for the government to improve sewage management practices. We propose a two-phase single framework to create education among the kids, the public and implement real-time water quality monitoring using a suitable App.
Approximately 120 million people fall sick with gastroenteritis alone, annually across the world from contact with contaminated coastal waters which leads to 12 billion $ in health costs. It is also a threat to the livelihoods of those in coastal communities who rely on the coast to support the tourism and fishing industries. Kids are the most impacted from this problem. On the island of St. Lucia, 87% of the sewage ends up in coastal waters untreated. However, there is a lack of awareness and understanding about this issue among the locals of these communities. We believe that without awareness, there is a lack of demand for change in current treatment practices, leaving no incentive for the government to improve sewage management practices.
We propose a two-phase single framework solution to address the lack of demand for change in coastal communities, specifically considering St.Lucia as a pilot. As part of the first phase, we wish to educate the kids going to school about the impacts of poor water quality on their lives and their future, while using water quality testing kits as visual tools. We believe this is a good starting point as 90% of the kids in St.Lucia go to school and that allows us to address a large socio-economic demographic through a simple approach. We are confident that these educated children will act as leaders of change and act as ambassadors to sustain this movement in the future. One year into the pilot, we wish to partner with local NGO’s to advertise and create further awareness among locals for need of adequate monitoring of coastal waters. We wish to leverage this demand with an interactive app for locals and visitors to coastal waters which provides real time monitored water quality data in form of a Water Quality Index (WQI), as well as through a feedback and alert system. We trust that with the increased awareness, already existent hit to tourism and hence the livelihood as well as empowerment of the locals with sufficient data, there will be a push for governance to implement improved sewage management in the country. Based on the success, this framework can further be expanded to several coastal communities across the world.
Since the Caribbean still remains an unexplored region in terms of centralised coastal water quality monitoring, it remains a big market for possible centralised or decentralised treatment systems, and hence, we believe this is an interesting and new demographic to start working with. The innovation lies in the process of approaching the problem with creating leaders with tomorrow and using kids as a medium for imparting education among the locals of the community, while tapping into the positive literacy statistics of the island. Further, the concept of a Water Quality Index and an alert app for coastal water quality is a relatively new concept, which if implemented can provide access to information to the public. This will lead to community engagement in issues that affect their livelihood.
It either empowers the people with evidence which will drive positive change or provide users with the sense of security about their local environment. It also educated people about the need for clean coastal waters for the well being and livelihood.
Phase I: Our two step process involves, firstly the education of school children of the issue of sewage contamination of coastal areas, in addition to using visual aids to support the same. Thus providing at an early stage, reach through these ambassadors to the local people.
Phase II: The second step involves monitoring and data visibility. We will use an app to provide sea water quality information to all members of the public with access to a smart phone. 126 phone plans exist on the island for every 100 persons. Therefore we believe this to be an ideal communication platform
Currently we are asking for a grant for our education, awareness and monitoring plan. We believe the setup and capital cost for the education program (using water quality testing kits) will cost us about 25,000$/year, with installation and maintenance costs upto 25,000$ and 10,000$/year, respectively. Once we roll out our app into the market, we believe the profits from the app can go towards our maintenance costs. We request for backing and support from any interested organisations or investors with whom we can collaborate.