• Friday, December 08, 2023
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IBM launches RFP to accelerate global water management solutions for vulnerable populations

IBM launches RFP to accelerate global water management solutions for vulnerable populations

IBM has announced the commencement of accepting proposals for the next cohort of the IBM Sustainability Accelerator initiative to accelerate global water management solutions for vulnerable populations.

The program applies IBM technologies, such as hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence, and an ecosystem of experts to enhance and scale projects focused on populations vulnerable to environmental threats.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries. This challenge is expected to be exacerbated in some regions because of climate change and population growth.

Africa remains one of the most vulnerable continents with 418 million people lacking a basic level of drinking water service, 779 million lacking basic sanitation services (including 208 million who still practice open defecation), and 839 million still lacking basic hygiene services, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the most water-stressed regions in Africa and globally due to factors such as climate change, increased water requirements, population growth, and poverty. With the recent developments – not limited to cases of devastating droughts and flooding – threatening the future of millions, addressing the water crisis becomes even more urgent by the day,” said Julia Carvalho, general manager of IBM Africa growth markets.

“This is why we are delighted to extend our water-management solutions to organisations with initiatives that need them as they seek to empower communities to overcome these water challenges in a bid to drive water stewardship and ultimately, resilience in the region,” Carvalho said.

In Nigeria, approximately 70 million people have no access to basic drinking water services and 114 million were without basic sanitation facilities in 2021, according to a November 2022 World Bank report.

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The report, titled, ‘Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership’ showed that access to piped water declined from 36 percent in 1990 to 11 percent in 2021. Recent events have also worsened Nigeria’s water security as the continent’s most populous country is still reeling from its most severe flooding in the past decade – which has seen cases of diarrhoea, water-borne diseases, respiratory infections, and skin diseases skyrocket in recent months.

“Innovation in the water management space is key for meeting UN SDG 6,” said Ben Mandell, utility services expert at Water.org, one of the judges for the water cohort selection.

“Organisation initiatives that are selected to participate in the IBM Sustainability Accelerator will have a significant opportunity to make an impact with the help of IBM’s technology, expertise, and network across its large ecosystem of partners.”

The RFP process will include input from IBM across disciplines, and from representatives from organisations such as Water.org and the United Nations Development Programme.

The process will include input from Ben Mandell, utility services expert at Water.org and Mary M. Matthews, head of the UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge and interim head of Water and Ocean Governance Programme – together with other partner experts.

They will share their input and expertise throughout the selection cycle. Kevin Pietersen, PhD, Research Fellow at the Institute for Water Studies, University of the Western Cape, has also been tasked with the responsibility of enforcing these selection criteria as a judge.

Boasting over 30 years of experience in the water, environment, geosciences and energy sectors and providing consultancy and assessment services to varied water projects across Africa, Dr Pietersen will also evaluate the proposals and share input that will inform IBM’s selections.

The selection criteria will consider the applicant’s capacity and readiness to support communities that are especially vulnerable to water-related threats, technical feasibility and sustainability for the envisioned solution, and transparency on measurement and reporting – along with others.

In alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, IBM will look to support projects that help improve equitable access to safe drinking water for all, improve water quality by reducing pollution, increase water-use efficiency across all sectors, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, increase sanitation management and reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity, among other purposes.

The non-profit and government initiatives focused on water management can apply to the RFP from March 14th to May 2023. The selected participants will be announced in November 2023.