Two Nigerian students, Elizabeth Korolo Boluwatife and Hajara Abdulsalam Omotunde, are blazing a trail with a device they invented, aimed at purifying and reusing polluted water, providing safe drinking water for those in riverine and rural regions. They were recently awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Nigeria for creating the Bithermal Water Distillation Device.
The Bithermal Water Distillation Device, created by Boluwatife and Hajara, was recognized as the top project by the jury panel. It was lauded for its ability to provide clean drinking water to everyone and its cost-effectiveness, economic viability, practicality and scalability.
Besides, the water dispenser has the ability to make potable water available to its users at a very little cost.
This innovative device uses solar energy, abundant in tropical regions, to purify water. Boluwatife and Hajara were inspired to develop this solution by the lack of safe drinking water in their community in the Makoko area of Lagos state.
Nigerian Schoolgirls, Elizabeth Korolo and Ajara Abdulsalam have created a device which turns contaminated water into safe drinking water.
They won the 2023 Stockholm Junior Water Prize Nigeria for their water purifying innovation. pic.twitter.com/isUUflgbD4
— African Hub (@AfricanHub_) September 1, 2023
Hajara said she had a moment of inspiration while boiling water in the kitchen. She realized that the process of water evaporating from the pot and condensing on the cover could be used to purify water, because the evaporated water is in its purest form, known as distilled water. This insight sparked the idea behind their innovative water purification device.
Boluwatife, who grew up in the Makoko area with a severe shortage of clean drinking water, explained that despite being surrounded by water, the community lacks access to clean water, due to poor drainage and sewage systems which worsen the problem.
The device uses locally available materials such as sand, charcoal and fiber.
Makoko is an informal settlement (largely ungoverned) community across the third mainland bridge, located on the coast of the mainland, in Lagos. A third of the community is built on stilts along the lagoon and the rest is on the land.
This is not the first time young Nigerians have been selected for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize in Ngeria, as the duo of Blessing and Iniso were also selected in 2018.
A detailed documentation of Boluwatife and Hajara’s project is available at the online portal of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a not-for-profit institute with a wide range of expertise in water governance – from sanitation and water resources management to water diplomacy. SIWI creates knowledge, develops capacity, and offers policy advice to countries, communities and companies.
SIWI’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize is a competition for students aged 15 to 20 who have developed research projects that can help solve major water challenges. The competition attracts tens of thousands of entries from over 40 countries.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize ceremony has been held annually since 1997, becoming a popular part of the World Water Week. The participants in the final round are winners from nationally-held competitions.
Their work are carefully reviewed by a jury of international water experts. The prize is awarded to the winning student or group of students by The Prize’s patron HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Over the years, many ideas that started as Stockholm Junior Water Prize projects have proven to be important innovations that changed the lives of both the participants and their communities.
Many previous winners have gone on to pursue successful careers within the water world, testifying how the competition helped spark their interest in science and influenced their career choices.