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New App Powers Better Sanitation in Developing World

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A team in Ghana inspecting sanitation facilities.

One of 10 finalists in the World Bank Sanitation Hackathon, Taarifa is a Web and mobile application that could help millions in Africa report sanitation issues.

Credit: NextBillion

Taarifa, a Web and mobile application developed by University of Nottingham doctoral researcher Mark Iliffe, could give millions of people in Africa the power to instantly report problems with poor sanitation.

Taarifa was chosen as one of 10 finalists in the Sanitation Hackathon sponsored by the World Bank, which challenges researchers in communication technology to design innovative software that can address real-world problems in health and sanitation. Taarifa is an open source Web application for information collection, visualization, and interactive mapping that enables users to input and share their own sanitation problems using short messaging service, Web forms, email, or social media. The reports can be tracked by local authorities and acted upon to execute repairs, improvements, or new infrastructure, giving citizens the power to facilitate changes in their own communities.

"Taarifa creates positive feedback loops, engaging communities with [non-governmental organizations] and governments, but is developed by a core of humanitarian volunteers and developers," Iliffe says. "This gives a capacity and potential for rapid development and innovation to solve sanitation and other issues."

From University of Nottingham (United Kingdom)
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