Ichor Joshua Wins 2022 United Nations Swarovski Prize

21-year-old Ichor Joshua has emerged winner of the 2022 United Nations Swarovski Prize for creating a technology that monitors contamination and scarcity in groundwater wells in Africa.

The final-year geology student at the University of Jos who is the first and only African to win the Swarovski Prize won alongside five other innovators from different continents.

Following a call for applications which attracted over 230 submissions from young creatives across 52 countries worldwide, the Swarovski Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, announced the latest cohort and advocates for the second year of its Creatives for Our Future program during a special reception at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on 14th of September 2022.

The six successful grant recipients, whose areas of expertise span across sustainable fashion and textiles, engineering, product design and biotechnologies were chosen for their groundbreaking ideas and innovative approaches, which offer new methods for addressing today’s challenges from social inequality, climate change and unsustainable consumption and production.

The Swarovski Foundation Creatives for Our Future cohort for 2022 includes:

  •  Noemi Florea | Designer and Writer (United States)
  •  M. Hassamuddin | Engineer and Eco-Innovator (Pakistan)
  •  Joshua Ichor | Geoscientist and Entrepreneur (Nigeria)
  •  Aradhita Parasrampuria | Design Textile and Sustainable Materials Researcher (United States)
  •  Florencia Valladares | Computer Engineer (Chile)
  •  Charlotte Werth | Textile and Fashion Designer (United Kingdom)

The successful recipients will each receive a €20,000 grant, paired with an educational program in collaboration with top institutions, tailored mentorship, and industry networking access with guidance from the Swarovski Foundation. The program advocates, leaders in their field, engage as master teachers and mentors for the cohort with the aim to empower their vision and develop their practices to contribute to positive change for public good, the environment and society.

In a conversation with Legit.ng, Joshua revealed that he was inspired to work on the project after being diagnosed with typhoid due to contaminated water consumption from a pump borehole in his village in Ikurav-tiev of Katsina-Ala LGA, Benue state, Nigeria. He also stated that his technology was built with personal funds and support from lecturers from the University of Jos who are specialists in hydrogeology.

In the words of Ichor Joshua:

“In 2012, I became ill with typhoid fever. The hand pump borehole which was the only source of water in my village broke down, and we only had dirty water from a stream to drink. This was the start. I made a decision to study geology and create innovations to solve the water scarcity problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

I invented a device called GeoTek monitor. It uses IoT technology to collect data on water wells. This data is analyzed through cloud platforms and Artificial intelligence models to detect contamination and possible breakdown in boreholes especially those in rural areas. Data collected by the system is useful for the management of groundwater aquifers.

I had challenges building my technology in terms of getting funds to purchase sensors and building machine learning models to meet international standards.

The Swarovski prize means a lot to me because I was able to show that young Africans can engineer viable solutions to African problems. I felt very proud representing Nigeria and Africa at large.

I was amazed when I was told that my technological solution was selected as one of the top six among 260 entries in the whole world. I believe my story will be a motivation to other African Innovators out there to keep chasing their dreams irrespective of where they come from.”

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