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APT Makes a Splash with Global Water Challenge

November 20th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Analytics

APT Spearheads Data-Driven Solutions to Global Development Challenges in Swaziland

Written by Data Dive leads Kaity Hsieh, Jake Intrator, and Ivana Polim. Kaity is a Marketing Manager, and Jake and Ivana are both Client Services Engagement Managers.

When we first took a call with Global Water Challenge last spring, no one imagined that the conversation would eventually land us in meetings with government ministries in a city 25 hours from Washington, DC—by plane. In July, the three of us led a philanthropic analytics engagement with Global Water Challenge, an organization dedicated to providing clean water access across the developing world. The results of those analyses were met with resounding enthusiasm and shortly after, we received an invitation from the Swaziland government to continue our work on the ground.

We learned that Swaziland—an African country about the size of New Jersey, with a total population of 1.3MM—has a wealth of data on water access and a long list of stakeholders seeking data-driven insights. It was the perfect candidate for applying advanced analytics to global development challenges.

These philanthropic engagements, known as Data Dives, are part of APT’s longstanding tradition of leveraging our analytics and engineering skills in service of nonprofit organizations. During our last Data Dive with Global Water Challenge in July, we gathered dozens of APTers to use data to answer pressing questions on water access in Swaziland, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and other countries. The teams focused on three areas:

  1. Identifying drivers of clean water access by examining more than one hundred different traits, including population, sanitation policies, climate, and the average age of water sources
  2. Building a predictive model to forecast the longevity of each water source and inform government budgets for inevitable water source breakage and repairs
  3. Creating an algorithm to prioritize future water investments in order to deliver clean water to the maximum number of people at the lowest possible cost

The exciting and unique aspect of this Data Dive is the depth of our continued collaboration. We are thrilled at the opportunity to implement APT’s findings on the ground and ensure that our analytics make a direct impact in increasing access to clean water. Through a series of in-person workshops with government ministers, donors, and NGOs, we hope to drive a step change in water access with actionable, data-driven recommendations.

During our time in Swaziland, the three of us will convene with leading water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) experts for in-depth discussion about policy, funding, and next steps. We will also have a chance to visit specific water sources to gain a deeper understanding of the landscape. Ahead of the trip, we are building on the work that dozens of APTers conducted in July and layering in several additional analytical deep-dives to directly answer the follow-up questions that came out of our July event.

Below is a preview of the goals that we hope to accomplish:

  1. Work with the Swaziland Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy to implement actionable next steps:
    • Which districts should we focus our investments on in the next year to ensure that every citizen is within two miles of a water source? What about our five-year plan?
    • What are the key drivers behind lack of water access, and how can we solve for each one?
    • What is the projected longevity of each water source?
    • Within each district, which specific water sources should we repair to maximize water access?
    • How much budget should we set aside for WASH in the next three or five years?
  2. Lead interactive workshops on the potential of data analytics in solving both WASH challenges and other development challenges
  3. Enable the Swaziland government and other key stakeholders to conduct their own analyses and maximize the use of their data going forward
  4. Help secure funding for data collection on water access, to enable more data-driven insights in the future

Please wish us a bon voyage, and we’re looking forward to sharing more when we return from our trip next month!


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