In a bid to combat the critical issue of inaccessible safe drinking water within their community, two young scholars, Elizabeth Korolo and Hajara Abdulsalam of Wesley Girls Senior School in Yaba, Lagos, have ingeniously devised a Bi-Thermal Distillation Device as their entry into the prestigious 2023 Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) competition.
The Bi-Thermal Distillation Device stands as a cutting-edge filtration and distillation apparatus, meticulously engineered to cleanse and recycle water, thereby delivering pure and potable drinking water to riverine and rural areas. The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition serves as an international platform where students aged 15 to 20 proffer solutions to significant water-related challenges. In a prior triumph during the preliminary round in Nigeria, the school’s Principal, Adeola Bankole, highlighted that the students’ choice of project was deeply rooted in their place of residence, Makoko, a locality bereft of potable water.
According to the duo, Makoko, although surrounded by water, grapples with the dire absence of safe drinking water. Hajara shared her revelation, stating that the idea of water purification dawned on her while boiling water in her kitchen. “Unclean water has made us spend money, not just on getting clean water, but also on getting treatment because anytime we consume this dirty water, it always leads to different viral sicknesses like cholera, diarrhea and so on and so forth. As a young girl, going to go and get water from long distances puts me at risk because of the activities of touts and area boys (hoodlums), in my community”, Elizabeth added.
The Bi-Thermal Distillation device operates by utilising locally-sourced materials like sand, charcoal, and fiber to fuel its filtration and distillation processes, yielding clean water. Subsequently, during this year’s World Water Week, Naomi Park, from the United States of America, secured the title of Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner, as conferred by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), for her groundbreaking research in the removal of carbon dioxide and oil-based pollutants from oceans. In her pioneering research, Naomi Park had devised a method to concurrently eliminate these pollutants of carbon dioxide emissions and crude oil that, continually plague the world’s oceans, negatively affecting marine biodiversity and human health.
During the presentation of the award, the jury noted that “the winner is taking a troublesome waste product and using it to solve a number of the most pressing issues we face in the modern world. By using Styrofoam and creating a ‘sponge’ that absorbs both carbon dioxide and oil products from the ocean, this student built a model and tested it, in multiple conditions, even simulating ocean waves, with impressive results”. During a ceremony at World Water Week in Stockholm, the Prize’s official patron, HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, bestowed the award upon the victor. The Stockholm Junior Water Prize has been an annual endeavour since 1997, orchestrated by SIWI, with Xylem serving as the Founding Partner.