15000km.org (2019)

Situational Insights into Water, Sanitation, Energy, and Waste from Southern Africa

At a glance

My partner and I recently finished a five month journey across Southern Africa to experience the people, cultures, customs, and the diverse flora and fauna of the region. Influenced by our professional backgrounds in engineering and economics and driven by our interests in social innovation, water and sanitation, and technology, we framed our trip as a great opportunity to collect data, engage with stakeholders, and learn about these ecosystems.

Through this project we sought to understand how different social structures and institutions have influenced the adoption of innovative technical and human solutions in the development and use of basic infrastructure. 

Using open source software provided by Ushahidi, a Kenyan based organization that emerged in 2008 with the aim to report the post-election violence, we created a deployment that we used for collecting data. The platform enabled us to compile a structured dataset from our mobile devices, updating our experiences with basic infrastructure in near real-time onto a mapping platform as we travelled along our route.

Data is not sufficient to understand the reality and breadth of complex social context. Therefore, we also undertook interviews with different people and stakeholders engaged in the various thematic fields of research. Through interviews we aimed to develop a better understanding of the social, economic, and cultural context behind the data points. In talking to people, we hoped to uncover personal stories, individual thoughts and learnings.

Our approach

Situational insights: 
We know that our research is not representative of the 8 countries we visited. Instead, we hope to provide experiential insights based on the 15,000km of our route.
Areas of focus: 
We will explore the nexus of society and the environment by looking at four key types of basic infrastructure, throughout the life-cycle.  Water // Sanitation // Energy // Waste Management
Intersection of approaches:
We want to create content that considers the opportunities and limitations of basic infrastructure by taking a dual approach; technical and social sciences.

My contribution

Researcher and author.

Organizations involved

This is a self-funded project. We have counted on the support of UNICEF Zimbabwe in the diffusion of our work.

Further information

Find all the data points: http://www.15000km.org
Read some of the articles: https://15000kmafrica.wordpress.com/