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Young people innovate by proposing new technologies for communal aqueducts

  • KAMS-ASADA La Palmera, from San Carlos, was the winning team of the Hackathon: Connecting Youth + Technology + Water in Rural Costa Rica

December 17, 2020. A stable and effective communication channel between the communal aqueduct (Asada) and the users, which facilitates the operational management and procedures, provides complete information accessible to users and possible allies and promotes greater responsibility and commitment to water resources, are some of the benefits that the application proposed by the KAMS-Asada La Palmera team, winner of the Hackathon, seeks to offer to the communal aqueduct: Connecting youth + technology + water in rural areas of Costa Rica.

"The Hackathon was held from November 30th to December 11th with the objective that young people find a technological solution that would improve communication and accountability of the Asadas with their users and other key stakeholders in rural areas of Costa Rica," reported Bárbara Viguera, Researcher at the Environment for Development Unit (EfD-CA) of CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and coordinator of the project Accountability, Use of Technology and Citizen Participation for the Improvement of Water Services in Vulnerable Communities in Costa Rica (WAPP).

A total of 69 young people with different profiles, 28 of them men and 41 women, from 21 cantons in the country, aged between 15 and 25, made up 16 teams competing in the hackathon.

"I decided to participate because I thought it was important that they take into account the ideas of us young people to try to solve problems presented by the Asadas of our country," said Karla Gonzalez, winning participant, along with Andrey Benavides, with the team KAMS-ASADA La Palmera, in the canton of San Carlos.

The second place was obtained by the team Aguas del Volcán, Asada of San Juan Sur, Norte and Noche Buena, from Turrialba, while the third place was obtained by the team CCSV (Colegio Científico de San Vito, ( San Vito Scientific High School), Asada Limoncito, from Coto Brus.

During the closing event, Muhammad Ibrahim, director general  of CATIE and Sharon Day, ambassador of the United States of America, participated and motivated the young people to dream and to continue working with local governments.

"The contribution of young people will improve access to water, economic growth and the reduction of inequality through the technologies created by each project," the Ambassador shared about the contributions made through this activity aimed at the youth of Costa Rica.


Hackathon closing event

At the closing event, held virtually on December 11, five teams made presentations to a panel of judges made up of representatives from CATIE, the United States Embassy, the Ministry of Science and Technology and Telecommunications of Costa Rica (MICITT, its Spanish acronym), the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA, its Spanish acronym), Reforestamos Mexico, Global IAD and experts in community water management.

Among the criteria considered by the evaluators during this closing phase were the quality of the presentation made during the event, the originality and creativity of the solution presented, the positive impact that the proposed idea has for the Asadas, users and institutions, as well as its viability. Also, aspects such as the mastery of the participants during the exhibition and its coherence, among other aspects, were considered.

Róger Madrigal, EfD-CA leader and evaluator during this phase, said that the winning team focused more on the specific requirements of the call and provided clear ideas in line with the needs of the Asadas.

"The prototype presented by KAMS-Asada La Palmera is applicable on a larger scale and not only for the communal aqueduct for which they worked," said Madrigal. He added that the prototype is feasible, useful and user-friendly.


Awards and next steps

The first place won a prize of USD 1500, the second place USD 1000 and the third place USD 500. The fourth and fifth place also received awards from America Ingeniería. 

In addition, the Asadas that accompanied the winning teams were awarded purchase orders from Colono Construcción and will receive training offered by the Consortium formed by Hidrogeotecnia, América Ingeniería y Regulación y Manejo de Fluidos (R&M) de Costa Rica S.A.

During the closing event, prizes were raffled among the 69 young participants, which were provided by CATIE, Timberland and Merrell.

Regarding the next steps to be implemented as part of the WAPP project and following up on the results of the hackathon, the winning team will develop an application with the inputs received during the hackathon, will train Asadas and users regarding the use of the application, will follow up on the process of using the application and will scale and transfer the application for use by more Asadas in Costa Rica.

The WAPP project is implemented by CATIE and funded by the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) of the United States Department of State.


More information:

Bárbara Viguera
Project Coordinator
Environment for Development Unit (EfD-CA)
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Written by:

Marianela Argüello L.
Communications Officer
Environment for Development Unit (EfD-CA)CATIE
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