Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology students’ innovative capacity was once again exemplified during the just concluded Water Sector Innovation Awards 2016. With four of the 16 finalist projects, JKUAT students walked away with top prizes in three categories.
In the waste water treatment and management category, Robbin Mureithi who completed a Purchasing and Supplies Management degree in 2015 pulled a first. Despite pursuing a social science, the innovation bug stung Robin and with the right ecosystem, he soon found his bearing with his efforts to offer sustainable solutions to some of Kenya’s pressing challenges.
Robin’s automatic drain cleaner that removes solid wastes from flowing rivers or streams impressed the judges, and bagged him KSh. 1 million.
The implement, he says, “can be deployed to solve the problem of drainage blocking in Kenya’s urban centers.”
Erick Omondi, a final year student pursuing Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering came second in the water resources management subtheme. His innovation seeks to harness GSM technology in automatic water level monitoring; heralding a break from current methods which use manual meters in the over 750 river gauging stations in the country.
“The innovation uses ultra-sonic sensors to measure water level and GSM technology to transmit the data from the site to a server or android phone,” explains Erick.
He believes the system could be used to remotely monitor water level in rivers, reservoirs and boreholes. In flood prone areas, the use of the innovation can send real-time warning signals that can facilitate evacuation of affected residents.
A third project by Joshua Kituu who is currently pursuing BSc. Agricultural Engineering was declared third best in the water services category. The sustainable domestic rain water harvesting and storage system uses locally available materials hence is cost effective compared to the conventional systems available in the market.
Dr. Eng. James Messo who chaired the panel of internationally drawn judges said the competition had attracted very high quality innovations. He added that if up scaled, the innovations could contribute to Kenya’s socio-economic advancements.
JKUAT has over the years nurtured a culture of innovation among students and staff. The University stages an annual innovations fair as part of its efforts to harness student ingenuity and foster industry-academic collaboration.
All the winning projects are to be incubated by the Kenya Water Services Trust Fund for possible commercialization.
The awards were part of the activities during the inaugural Kenya Water Week 2016 Conference and Exhibition, held at the Kenyatta International Convention Center on 20-25 November. The event themed: From Aid to Trade: Enhancing Business Partnerships and Innovation for Sustainable water and sanitation Provision and irrigation in Africa, was graced by Deputy President William Ruto and Water Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa.