Learners develop technology to control water wastage

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Johannesburg – Every year, the country loses millions of rands due to water wastage caused by leaking pipes and taps left running unattended to.

In a bid to stem the water wastage, a group of Grade 10 learners from Mathari High School in Limpopo have developed a project which uses cellphones to control water usage.

Through the Project Water Conversation, learners devises a method whereby two cell phones are used to correspond when using water in the bathtub or kitchen sink.

Explaining to SAnews how the method works, Camellia Mashele, 16, said: “When I call cell phone A or send a call back to cell phone A, it will send a signal to cell phone B to close the valve. We also have a level sensor, which stops the flow of water once it has reached the required level.”

Camellia added that the model can also be used as an alarm.

“We can set an alarm on cellphone A, which will determine when the water must start to flow and also set another alarm on cell phone B to determine the duration of the water flow,” explained Mashele.

The learners said they decided to use a technology savvy model because people have become “lazy”.

“We used this because people use a lot of remote controls these days, so our model will be appealing because it uses cell phones, you won’t have to get up and do it yourself, you just call,” another learner from the group, Edgar Nukeri added.

The learners, who are from the Mathari Cross village, acknowledged that cell phone signal was their biggest challenge when developing their model.

The Project Water Conservation scooped first place in the Youth Water and Sanitation Awards on Thursday. The project won in the South African Youth Water Prize category.

The learners are planning to present the project to their local municipality.

Deputy Minister for Water and Sanitation, Pamela Tshwete attended the awards ceremony in Boksburg, which was the culmination of the Water and Sanitation Summit which started on Monday.

The summit gave young people an opportunity to express themselves on matters of water and sanitation. The forum mandates the young people to engage their communities on the agreed and tested solutions in the management of water and sanitation.

The learners were challenged to come up with plans to curb water challenges in their schools or areas.

The awards on Thursday therefore recognised the best plans, as well as the cream of the crop in eight categories, including Baswa Le Meets, Aqua Enduro, Eco Schools, South African Youth Water Prize, Public Speaking, Teacher Water Training, Out of School Youth as well as the United Nation Award, which was handed over to the Department of Water and Sanitation.

South Africa scooped the UN Award for its Best Practices in Environmental Education and Awareness Programme. The award was received by Deputy Minister Tshwete.

The winners received cheques ranging between R5 000 and R35 000 and bursaries to study water and sanitation related careers.

In the Baswa Le Meets category, 15 schools won prize money and five media classes.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister called on various sectors to get involved in the work of bettering the lives of people.

The highlight for her was winning the UN award, because it meant the world knew that the summit was making a difference.

She commended teachers for taking the responsibility and assisting the department in its water awareness programme and for spending their holidays with the learners in the summit.

She encouraged learners to share the experiences with others when they go back home. “Take what you’ve learnt to your schools, parents and neighbours.” – SAnews.gov.za