Finalist category: Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award
Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award, Finalist, 2018
Using data to solve the urban sanitation crisis.
Gather launched in 2016 to bring people and data together to solve the urban sanitation crisis.
Statistics show that by 2030, three billion people will be living in cities without access to a safe, working toilet. Without sanitation, children get sick, girls drop out of school when they start their periods, families are unable to work and communities get dangerously polluted. In 2016, Gather’s research found that organisations working to support urban sanitation were restricted due to a lack of quality data – less effective, efficient and collaborative than they could be. They needed to be able to track better their progress, share and analyse data with other organisations to better understand the state of sanitation across cities.
Gather was developed to meet this need – focusing work on three programmes: data collection, data sharing and data standards. In 2017 they launched a demo for a data sharing platform using data from Nairobi, Kenya, and in 2018 they hosted the world’s first urban sanitation data dive using data for Lusaka, Zambia. This found that, on average 16 people shared one toilet, and data was used to recommend where investment should be directed, ensuring that money can be spent wisely and sustainably.
Gather is now working to create a new data standard for urban sanitation data and launch an interactive platform to help them work more effectively, efficiently and collaboratively to serve people living in low income communities. This would ease the burden and cost of data collection by simplifying the data they need to collect and share, and reduce the duplication of efforts. The platform allows organisations to share data, and access analysis that will help them to: identify areas of greatest need; identify gaps in sanitation service provision and in the cost of completing the sanitation.
Gather is continuing to build a coalition of sanitation providers to adopt a new data standard and is also preparing to launch a sector wide survey into current data behaviours. By approaching this problem in a way that no one else has, Gather brings together voices and expertise from across the sanitation sector, and complements this with experts from technology, data science, academia and professional services.
By 2020, they want to have used data science to get sanitation services to 26 million people living in 15 emerging cities around the world.