LUMS Student Wins 1st Prize at UNICEF/BRAC WASH Innovation Challenge 2018

Friday, October 26, 2018

Mahlaqa Kamran, BSc Economics and Mathematics 2019 student has won the first prize for the hand-washing category at the UNICEF/BRAC WASH Innovation Challenge 2018 for South Asia. Her great victory has made LUMS and the nation proud. The innovation - the Wottle – a product made by Ms. Kamran is a designed water bottle, packed with full functionality of a hand washing station, to allow for hand washing on the go.  "An extended version of the model was also proposed to be served as an indoor washing station for rural households with no dedicated sanitation space," she shared.

The innovation wash challenge received about 800 ideas from eight South Asian nations to participate in the creative campaigns initiated by UNICEF and Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) to encourage hand washing properly. “We felt extremely proud and responsible, since we were the only team selected from Pakistan across over 800 teams from South Asia. Having the idea recognised by UNICEF and BRAC with their officials offering help to roll out the product was great. Moreover, representing Pakistan and pitching our product in front of officials from the Bhutanese government, senior management officials from UNICEF and BRAC, as well as Indian cricket icon and Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Sachin Tendulkar was an amazing feeling,” commented Ms. Kamran.

“We needed to come up with an innovation that would facilitate hand washing by caregivers in South Asia in an attempt to prevent millions of infant deaths caused by caregivers not washing their hands at critical times like feeding the infant,” said Ms. Kamran, sharing the idea behind the project.

Ms. Kamran expressed her gratitude for Dr. Agha Ali Akram, Assistant Professor at the Economics Department, LUMS for his thoughtful suggestions on the idea that helped to refine the product and turn it into a winning proposition. “Sir Agha was exceedingly willing to offer his insights, which helped me improve the idea,” she recalled.

“LUMS has helped a lot in motivating and facilitating me, and inspired me to think out of the box and do something extraordinary,” remarked Ms. Kamran on her achievement. 

Ms. Kamran is looking forward to further develop the product with assistance from BRAC’s Innovation Lab. She is hopeful to create a difference in people’s lives and thanks LUMS for helping her create her future.

The Challenge aims to look for innovators who could produce ideas to save millions of lives. The winners receive a cash prize of $5000 and are publicised through UNICEF WASH events and networks and are given the chance to present their ideas to global conferences.