Yerevan, Armenia – Armenia is a small and landlocked country, vulnerable to climate change due to its semi-arid climate characteristics. One of the largest users of Armenia’s precious water resources is also one of the nation’s most important sectors – agriculture. Forty percent of the country’s agricultural goods come from the Ararat Valley, which is home to 18 percent of the country’s population. Over the last several years, water consumers in the Valley, including local farms and the growing fish industry, have lowered the water quantity to the point where 32 communities that previously had access to flowing water must now pump water from the ground. Armenia’s future could be one of water shortages. The entire region is under heavy water supply stress, and the demand is only increasing as the supply shrinks.
For the past few years, as part of its Science, Technology, Innovation and Partnership (STIP) efforts, USAID has been working to develop innovative solutions and raise awareness to ensure that Armenia’s future is a green one. The latest in USAID’s water sector projects is the 24-hour Water Ideathon – a competition of ideas through which Armenian and American partners will mobilize local talents of all ages and diverse backgrounds to develop new ideas to solve Armenia’s water resource challenges.
“Innovative and concerted efforts are needed to stave off the worst impacts of these problems and set Armenia on a path for sustainable water resource management,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. “Through this unique project with our local and American partners, including Microsoft, National Instruments, IBM and Coca-Cola, we will invite the Armenian people to apply their knowledge and skills to solve the challenges around water supply in the nation. It will also help highlight the importance of government and citizens joining together to build a sustainable water management program in Armenia.”
During the Ideathon, selected teams will gather at the TUMO Center on June 11-12 and have about 24 hours to flesh out their solution to a specific problem with water resource management in Armenia. At the end of the 24 hours, the teams will pitch their idea to a review panel which will select winners in three categories. Some teams will be looking for solutions driven by IT and data analysis. Others will develop solutions using public policy, governmental reforms, media initiatives and public outreach. And the third group will look at engineering solutions using math, design, and empirical analysis. An additional award will go to the best idea from a group made up of young students, ages 14 to 19.
Teams of between two and four people are invited to apply to join the Water Ideathon. USAID will accept applications by June 5, 2016. Event details and application requirements can be found at http://tinyurl.com/Water-Ideathon and http://goo.gl/forms/uPbVQ1YcUO.
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The Water Ideathon is an initiative of Armenian and American partners that will mobilize local talents of all ages and diverse backgrounds to come up with new ideas to help solve Armenia’s water resource management challenges. The 24-hour competition is organized by USAID Armenia in partnership with the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Armenia, Impact Hub Yerevan, National Instruments, Microsoft Armenia, Microsoft Innovation Center of Armenia, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the IBM Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center, the Armenian National Engineering Laboratory, Unicomp, and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation of Armenia. To learn more about the Water Ideathon, please visit http://tinyurl.com/Water-Ideathon and follow the event’s dedicated hashtag (#WaterIdeathon) for new updates.