Elizabeth Korolo and Abdulsalam Ajara, both students at Wesley Girls’ Senior Secondary School in Yaba, recently unveiled a groundbreaking water purifying device that is revolutionizing the way people access clean drinking water in their community. Their innovation, which has earned them the prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize Nigeria, is not only changing lives locally but also capturing global attention.
The story of these young inventors is one of inspiration born from necessity. Despite being surrounded by water, Makoko has long grappled with a dire lack of clean drinking water. The available water sources have often led to outbreaks of waterborne diseases, including cholera and typhoid, among the residents. The struggle to obtain safe water has been a daily ordeal for Elizabeth and Abdulsalam.
Elizabeth recalls the risks associated with fetching water in their community, where street urchins frequently loom around water sources. “As a young girl,” she says, “going to fetch water from a long distance exposes me to a lot of risks.”
Abdulsalam’s moment of revelation came in the kitchen, where she was boiling water. “I felt the evaporating water could be converted into drinkable water because it is the best form of water to drink,” she explains. It was this spark of insight that set them on the path of innovation.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize Nigeria recognized their ingenuity and passion, awarding them the top prize for their Bi-thermal water purifying device. This device not only purifies contaminated water but also recycles it into safe drinking water. It’s a cost-effective, economically viable, practical, and scalable solution that has the potential to transform the lives of those in riverine and rural areas.
Beyond its technical merits, the device holds the promise of making clean water accessible to people at a minimal cost. It is a beacon of hope for communities like Makoko, where the struggle for clean water has persisted for generations.
Elizabeth and Abdulsalam’s journey into innovation was motivated by their deep-rooted desire to alleviate the water crisis in their community. “The competition triggered us into innovation because our community faces the challenge of obtaining drinkable water despite being surrounded by water,” they explain.
Their remarkable achievement places them in the league of pioneering women inventors throughout history. Notably, Sybilla Masters, the first woman to obtain a patent in recorded American history in 1715, developed a revolutionary method for processing Indian corn into various food and cloth products. In the 21st century, trailblazers like Sheryl Sandberg, Ginni Rometty, Marissa Mayer, and Susan Wojcicki have continued to break new ground, contributing significantly to science, technology, and society.