Two JKUAT students emerged winners in the just concluded #MyLittleBigThing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2019 Challenge. Stephen Muchiri, a Control and Instrumentation student and Ruth Gathii, a Project Management student bagged the top positions from a pool of over 100 participants.
Stephen emerged winner with his Auto-Alcoblow project while Ruth was the 1st Runner-up with The Power in Plastics project. The challenge organised by MK Afrika in partnership with Cambridge University and Safaricom among other partners invited undergraduate university students from across the country to submit innovation ideas around the SDGs. The ideas presented must be scalable and commercially viable covering one or more of the 17 SDGs.
Stephen’s Auto-Alcoblow project aims at aiding in achieving SDG 3 by halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020. Auto-Alcoblow is an automated alcohol detection system that senses the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of a driver and prevents ignition of the engine if the allowed alcohol limit is exceeded.
“We have also incorporated an aspect where the system sends a text message to a relative or close friend of the driver informing them that the driver is not in a good condition to drive in the hope that they can come and ‘rescue’ the driver,” explained Muchiri.
Ruth’s The Power in Plastic project seeks to address SDG 1, No Poverty, through setting up direct exchange centres in slums where residents can exchange their plastic items for sustenance items. The project uses plastics as a tool for economic empowerment for the very low income earners in slums.
This is done through; reuse of plastics to make decor pieces for events, home and office space; better prices for plastic collectors; and direct exchange of plastic for basic items such as flour and sanitary towels to encourage both locals and students who are part of the initiative to engage in plastic collection.
“Knowing that 14.6m Kenyans still live below the poverty line of $1.9 a day and yet, only 5% of our plastic gets either recycled or reused, this initiative comes in handy as a sustainable solution for economic empowerment for the people living in slums,” said Ruth.
With the project, Ruth hopes to have as many schools as possible to be part of the initiative by introducing SDG clubs in schools to help with her project.
The two, together with the 2nd Runner-up, Cynthia Nkanai of Kenyatta University, are expected to travel to South Africa, August 24, for a five-day training on sustainability in business and leadership at Cambridge University and will be incubated by MK Africa for a period of 3 months.
In the top ten position of the challenge, the two were joined by two other JKUAT students, Ben Kerongo and Jeff Muchombe and the team was mentored by Ms. Emma Omulokoli of JKUAT Chemistry Department and Brian Were JKUAT SDGs Club, Vice Director.
Brian, the winner of the challenge in 2018, said to achieve the SDGs, innovation is key in each of the 17 goals and the challenge offers a novel opportunity to university students to develop innovations towards attaining the goals.