The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with BHP Foundation and Unread Media, hosted the ‘Water and Mining’ Data Hackathon at the Hub Innovation Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

IMAGE

IFC addressing the issue of water and mining in Mongolia

The event was organised by IFC’s From Disclosure to Development (D2D) program to encourage young and tech-savvy contestants to use existing natural resource data sets for innovative solutions that address Mongolia’s water issues.

The event offered participants an opportunity to be trained and supported by Mongolia’s top water and data experts to improve their water data analysis skills and communications strategies. While over 480 applicants registered as teams or individually, 12 teams were selected for the 36-hour hackathon.

Welcoming all participants, Rufat Alimardanov, IFC Resident Representative for Mongolia, noted that there was a growing demand for industries and governments to be more transparent.

“We need to focus on using existing data more effectively,” said Mr Alimardanov.

Addressing the contestants, he added that the participants’’ enthusiastic contribution clearly showed the interest in this subject.

“We can find ways to improve data literacy, which can help address development challenges,” said Mr Alimardanov.

The finalists at the event included digital entrepreneurs, data journalists, analysts and environmental enthusiasts, who covered a range of topics, such as efficiency of water usage, water resource levels, participatory water monitoring and sustainable water usage.

The ‘miners’ won the hackathon for designing a water allocation decision-making model and for developing a game to increase stakeholders’ knowledge.

The second place was awarded to Beelog for developing a cost-effective sensor that can measure river contamination in real time and send notifications when required.

The third place went to ‘M-tea’ for developing an ‘M-Index’ to measure appropriate usage of water along with a proof of concept to mainstream it through a digital platform.

The winners will continue to work with the Hub Innovation Centre to develop their ideas further. Dagvasuren, Team Leader, Beelog, said that this event helped the team realise that youth needed to play an active role in order to access information about the mining sector.

“This will enable them to identify issues and resolve them,” added Dagvasuren.

Ayurzana, Team Leader, Miners, said participation in the Data Hackathon was a learning experience.

“It helped us discover several datasets, research findings, statistical information on water and mining that we have never used before,” he explained.

The winning team was awarded a cash prize of four million MNT along with a three-month membership to the Hub Innovation Centre.

The runners-up received a cash prize of 2.5 million MNT.

The event was supported by the Hub Innovation Centre, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and IFC’s Signatories of Voluntary Code of Practice on Water Management and Mining initiative.

Mining is a dominant part of the economy of more than 80 countries including Mongolia. The World Bank Group believes in the importance of responsible mining.

In December 2015, IFC and MIGA, members of the World Bank Group, arranged US$2.2 billion in debt and guarantees to support the world-class Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia.