Challenge:

How can we improve sanitation and better manage human waste in low-income urban communities?

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OpenIDEO has partnered with Unilever and WSUP (Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor) to explore sanitation issues in Ghana. Together we’re asking you, the OpenIDEO community, to help us come up with sustainable sanitation inspirations and concepts. We'll be focusing on low-income urban areas like Kumasi – the nation’s second-largest city, with a population of more than 1.5 million people.

This OpenIDEO challenge will complement a social innovation project by IDEO, Unilever, and WSUP that is also exploring sanitation solutions for low-income urban areas. The project team will be on the ground in Kumasi for the majority of our Inspiration phase, sending OpenIDEO news updates, Tweets, and photographs from the field to support your enthusiasm for — and thinking about —the challenge. Upon return from Ghana, the team will synthesize your inspirations and identify overarching themes to inform the Concepting phase. In other words, your ideas will help IDEO, Unilever, and WSUP conceive and deploy the solutions to waste-management challenges in Ghana. Get involved!

Phase I: Inspiration

Think about everything from high-tech and portable latrines to household cleaning products and emergency-kit waste bags. The broader you go, the more possibilities we’ll have to consider.

Some questions we’d like you to answer:

  • What does “clean” mean to you?
  • What innovations have you seen in waste-management and sanitation in developed nations or emerging markets?
  • What analogous situations can we think about as we explore this space? Can we find inspiration in the way waste is managed at construction sites, campgrounds, hotels, or even on cruise ships?
  • What effective business or service models related to cleaning, waste removal, or sanitation are you aware of?


Phase II: Concepting

Please tell us about the low-cost, sustainable solutions that you believe will help address waste-management and sanitation issues in Ghana. Think: products, services, business models, and systems. How can your concept(s) be executed efficiently? For this phase, we’ll add details about the current state of sanitation in Ghana as our own Inspirations, as well as provide design constraints to help you hone your concept into a winning solution.


About Unilever and WSUP:

Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company whose products touch 2 billion people worldwide. Unilever is exploring new opportunities in sanitation and waste management. Unilever has recently announced the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan and a commitment to double the size of its business but at the same time reducing its environmental impact.

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) is a tri-sector partnership between the private sector, civil society and academia with the objective of addressing the increasing global problem of inadequate access to water and sanitation for the urban poor and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal targets, particularly those relating to water and sanitation.


Have ideas already?

Acumen Fund is soliciting ideas about how to make sanitation sexy through a variety of communication channels. Submit your ideas there (prior to November 21) and then be sure to post them again here during the concepting phase which begins December 14.

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Realisation phase. You can participate by adding stories on the impact of this challenge.
122 contributions
68 ideas
22 final ideas
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