World Vision Challenge: Low-Cost Chlorine Monitoring for Rural Piped Water Systems

$20,000 USD

Challenge overview


The introduction of chlorination as a means to disinfect and safeguard public drinking water represents one of the most impactful public health advances in recorded history. Despite the well documented public health benefits, however, the use of chlorination in rural water supply systems in sub-Saharan Africa remains low. One factor limiting its use is the ability to efficiently monitor free residual chlorine levels at multiple points with the water distribution system. While proprietary technologies have been developed to automate the measurement process, they remain expensive and therefore impractical for smaller scale, rural systems in resource-constrained settings. The Seeker for this Challenge, World Vision, supported by SeaFreight Labs is seeking low-cost, easily maintainable technologies and/or devices to monitor free residual chlorine in piped water distribution systems located in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. A solution to this Challenge would not only bring life-changing advancement to the target areas but also positively impact tens to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation, experimental proof-of-concept data, and possibly prototype delivery.



Billions of people worldwide benefit from the ready availability of safe, clean, disinfected drinking water. The use of chlorine in a variety of forms is one of the most common ways to achieve disinfection as it is effective against a wide range of viruses and bacteria while also being a relatively accessible and affordable chemical globally. Efficient and effective chlorination of piped water services, however, requires regular monitoring of the amount of free residual chlorine present to ensure sufficient amounts for complete disinfection (while also avoiding excessive levels). Automated systems to monitor residual chlorine levels in piped water systems are available but may cost thousands of dollars, a price tag that impedes usage in resource-constrained rural areas in developing countries. Thus, while a large percentage of the world’s population has access to safe, clean, disinfected water, many still lack access to this fundamental human need. World Vision is working to change this by bringing safe, clean, disinfected water through small scale piped water systems to the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. One major need in this effort is an automated, cost-effective, and easily maintainable means to regularly monitor the free residual chlorine levels at multiple locations in the piped water distribution systems as well as at points of service. The overarching objective this Challenge, therefore, is the development of a low-cost approach to automating the measurement of free residual chlorine levels for small scale rural water systems in resource-constrained settings. Such a solution will help bring one of the most impactful public health interventions in recorded history—chlorinated drinking water—to vulnerable households in poor, underserved communities throughout the world.

A submission to the Challenge should include the following:

  1. The detailed description of the proposed solution addressing specific Technical Requirements presented in the Detailed Description of the Challenge. This description should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature/patent precedents.
  2. Experimental proof-of-concept data obtained as outlined in the Detailed Description of the Challenge (and/or delivery of a prototype if requested by the Seeker).  

The Challenge award is contingent upon theoretical evaluation and experimental validation of the submitted solutions by the Seeker.

To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, Solvers will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions and release their solutions under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (4.0).

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to monetary awards, winning Solvers, with their consent, will receive recognition in a public announcement made by World Vision and will have the potential for follow-up engagement and collaboration with World Vision and other stakeholders to support the scaling of the proposed technology.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 04-Feb-2021Late submissions will not be considered.



Employees of World Vision and their immediate families, as well as any individuals involved in the judging of this Challenge and their immediate families, are ineligible to receive an award for this Challenge.




World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more than 35 years, World Vision has been bringing water, sanitation, and hygiene services to the most vulnerable children around the world. Our 2021-25 Business Plan aims to leverage $1 billion of investments into 41 priority countries, bringing sanitation to more than 13 million people. Our strategy includes market-based approaches, developing viable business models with tiered product offerings to leave no one behind, as well as increasing consumer demand.

Committed to making a positive and lasting difference in the world, and driven by our desire to serve God, World Vision has become a global leader in improving and transforming the lives of children, their families, and their communities.

World Vision is supported in this project by SeaFreight Labs (, an open-innovation consultancy using global challenges to cost-effectively deliver breakthrough innovation. Participation in this project is a direct result of the recent SeaFreight Labs decision to join the Pledge 1% movement.


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an RTP Challenge?

An InnoCentive RTP (Reduction to Practice) Challenge is a prototype that proves an idea, and is similar to an InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge in its high level of detail. However, an RTP requires the Solver to submit a validated solution, either in the form of original data or a physical sample. Also, the Seeker is allowed to test the proposed solution. For details about treatment of Intellectual Property (IP) rights, please see the Challenge Specific Agreement.

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