Clean Water Challenge

Currently in the the discovery phase of a prizeable challenge in the space of clean water.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed



According to the World Health Organization, 783 million people do not have access to clean water (approximately 1 in 9). Nearly 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation (approximately 1 in 3). The largest group facing this problem is in Africa, where 358 million people do not have access to clean water. 

This causes a breakdown in social stability. 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases. Over half of the developing world's primary schools don't have access to water and sanitation facilities. Without toilets, girls often drop out at puberty. Research has shown that for every 10% increase in women's literacy, a country's whole economy can grow by up to 0.3%.

In the US, on average, tap water costs are a little over $2 per 1,000 gallons, with average daily consumption at 176 gallons per person. The average African family uses 5 gallons per day. The average distance that Africans travel to collect water is 4 kilometres per day. Over 40 billion work hours are lost each year in Africa to the need to fetch drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34.

These statistics paint a clear picture: improve access to clean water in a community that lacks it and that community will become more stable.


What Are We Doing About It?

We are in the discovery phase of this challenge, to find a prizeable challenge in the space of clean water. What we know so far is that we want solutions to be accessible, affordable, environmentally friendly and powered by a renewable energy source. We have begun interviewing subject matter experts and collecting research and data.


What Can You Do Right Now?

Are you an expert? Or do you know an expert? Please introduce yourself or them to us in our comments tab above.

Have an interesting article or research to share with us? Add it to the comments tab.

Have an idea of what kind of challenge we should create? Let us know in - you guessed it - our comments tab.

Want to contribute but don't know how? Pass this challenge forward by sharing this challenge on your social media feeds. Click the "Share" icon above.



Challenge Updates

5 remarkable inventions improving water quality across the globe

April 2, 2015, 8:02 a.m. PDT by Simon Fraser

from Mashable:

The world's water crisis is still in full force.

Approximately 750 million people around the world still lack access to safe, drinkable water — 90% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, according to the World Health Organization's latest statistics.

In addition, a new report from the United Nations warns that global water resources may only meet 60% of the world’s water demands by 2030.

But various entrepreneurs, innovators and organizations are working hard to create devices with the potential to change that number. From the LifeStraw, which allows users to sip water through a simple, straw-shaped filtration tool, to the LUV Water system, which purifies water using weight and gravity, there are various ideas that offer hope in this dire situation.

Continue reading on Mashable >

Our Clean Water Poll Results Are In

March 27, 2015, 12:36 a.m. PDT by Simon Fraser

For the past month, we've been running a poll on the subject of clean water. The question posed was, "How many people do not have access to clean water around the world?"

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program defines access to clean water as water that is suitable for drinking with the source less than 1 kilometre away from where the water is being used and from which one can reliably obtain 20 litres per day per person per household . So for those of us with bathroom and/or kitchen sinks - imagine if your sink was a mile away and you had to scale a cliff face to get to it and the water from your faucet was filled with microbes unsuitable for human consumption. You'd be considered to not have access to clean water.

Almost three quarters of respondants chose correctly.  According to the WHO, 783 million people do not have access to clean water. That is approximately 1 out of every 9 humans on this planet.

After completing the poll, respondants were asked, "Who should we be talking to in order to address this issue?"

Some of the people and organizations we were referred to include:

  • Andre’ Silva at Clean Earth Energy & Fuels. A former plumber, Silva founded CEEF as a means to create sustainable businesses and communities that balance resources and living conditions without undermining their environments.
  • King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. A patron of the Global Water Partnership, he was appointed as the Chairperson of the United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation nearly 10 years ago.
  • Andrew Almack. While in university, Almack researched the commercial viability of recycling marine plastic debris into products, which led to his founding of The Plastic Shore Project, a non-profit that strives to reduce plastic pollution through community engagement and education.
  • P. Kim Sturgess, P.Eng., FCAE, ICD.D. CEO and founder of Alberta WaterSMART, a non-profit committed to developing and improve the management of Alberta’s water resources, Sturgess also serves on the Expert Panel for Water Use in Canadian Agriculture and is a sought after speaker and advisor on water issues in Canada and Alberta.
  • Matt Damon. Known mostly for his acting career, Damon is also the co-founder of, into which he’s thrown his celebrity weight. provides innovative, market-based solutions that change lives every day through safe water and sanitation.
  • Simon Griffiths. Determined to change the global philanthropy market into a consumer-driven model, Griffiths co-founded and launched an IndieGoGo campaign. Griffiths remained on a toilet for 50 hours, until their target of $50K had been reached. WGAC sells toilet paper with 50% of their profits going to build toilets and sanitation in the developing world.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our poll and suggested an expert to whom we could reach out. We are currently in the discovery phase of a Clean Water Challenge and your participation at this stage has been invaluable.