Water and Sanitation on annual Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition

Bloemfontein science student off to Sweden to compete on water issues

South Africa is gradually making its mark in water conservation issues and models that are designed by the youth at international level.

Driaan Lou-Kemp (16) flies to Stockholm, Sweden, this coming weekend to represent the country at the annual Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition. He will compete against students from 90 countries who will all vie for the coveted international prize.

The Bloemfontein science student at Hoerskool Jean Fouche won the SA Youth Water Prize in Pretoria in June this year after presenting a riveting water conservation project before a panel of adjudicators. He beat peers from eight provinces and won himself R8 000 cash and a tertiary bursary in any of the 25 universities in South Africa to study civil engineering or a water science subject. He also won R11 000 cash for his Sweden trip.

The competition was hosted by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

The second prize of R7 000 was won by Abigail Murphy of George High School in Western Cape and the third prize of R5 500 went to Nondumiso Mkhize, Nolwazi Sithole and Nonduduzo Mbhele of Mehlokazulu High in Pietermaritzburg, Natal Midlands.

Driaan will be part of a South African team led by Minister Nomvula Mokonyane to Stockholm for a Water Week event in which water scientists and engineers debate all things water and sanitation. Stockholm Junior Water Prize gathers imaginative young minds from all over the world, encouraging their continued interest in water and sustainability issues. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is the Patron of the event. This year, the Scandinavian country celebrates the 20th jubilee of the competition.

Each year, around a hundred thousand young innovators participate with their bright ideas. The programme also exposes and advances the interest of youth in science and technology, and motivates them to pursue water and sanitation careers. It targets Grades 9-11 learners who identify problems related to water in their school and community, conduct a research and come up with innovations recommended to solve the problems.

The SAYWP also responds to the scarce skills challenge and serves as an incubator for the department's Learning Academy.

How does Driaan fancy his chances of scooping the international prize?

"It's going to be tough but anything is possible," Driaan says.

His performance on the international stage will depend largely on the uniqueness of his project and how he presents it before the hawkish adjudicators. Most of his competitors will come from developed countries such as Japan, China, South Korea and the United States. It is therefore important that Driaan should present his case without being intimidated by the countries his rivals will come from.

Driaan developed a cost-effective model that allows the cold water to be diverted to a container and only allow water to flow out of the shower head when it is at the desired temperature or above. The saved cold water can then be used in other chores such as watering the plants, washing dishes or for drinking.

Source: Government of South Africa.