Despite having the 9th largest economy, the surging Indian population of over 1 billion creates infrastructural pressures that public spending has not matched and has resulted in huge health, social and cultural issues. Vast swathes of poverty exist where drinking water, sanitation and many other services are absent. Since being elected last year, Prime Minister Modi has promised to install these basic services across the country to ensure living standards and life expectancies rise and all can benefit from the economic prosperity. However supply side developments alone have proved to be ineffective (studies have shown as low as a 20% uptake of newly built toilets): education surrounding these services is required if sustainable, long term benefits are to be seen.
This is why the $20,000 WASH Away Mobile Game Challenge by UBS Optimus Foundation (view challenge) was launched; to use an innovative, stimulating medium to teach children as to the benefits of sanitation and in particular the negatives associated with open defecation.
Focusing on the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu where 5 mobile phones exist for every 2 toilets, this Challenge is looking for a fun, engaging mobile phone game that provides key educational elements towards improved WASH practices for children and induces behavioural changes. Children can be great instigators of change within society and thus health interventions aimed at them represent significant opportunities for lasting impacts. As mobile phone ubiquity in Tamil Nadu increases, this Challenge seeks to use this growth as a tool for health change.
The game can target any group within the demographic of 5-14 year old males or females and we’re hoping for games that interlink the audience, gameplay, educational elements as one to create persuasive and impactful games. Key educational elements that must be present are;
- Improved awareness of the issues related to open defecation
- Promote the benefits of toilet use and educate as to best practice
- Highlight and teach toilet maintenance: toilet upkeep and cleanliness are vital for safeguarding longer term use rather than leaving them to disrepair
- Persuade gamers to take action upon these educational elements
Further to these educational elements, games need to take into account and justify:
- The point of interaction for the game (how it will reach the child)
- Interaction with Tamil culture, along with the differing requirements depending on the chosen demographic
- How the game will align with the current WASH ecosystem in Tamil Nadu
- The alignment of the educational aspects of the game with the mechanics of playing and how these interact
- How the Solver will engage with locational contacts and end users to further iterate and improve the game
At this stage, only designs of games are needed – no prototype or early development is required. $20,000 is on offer for the most promising designs with a potential $200,000 investment fund to then turn these designs into a reality.
Education is essential for creating sustainable long term changes; developing uptake of the installed sanitation will be needed if the debilitating health and social consequences are to be overcome. The WASH Away Mobile Game Challenge by UBS Optimus Foundation offers an opportunity for you to pioneer these outcomes.