“The Community Plumbing Challenge is pioneering a new role for skill competitions that demonstrate the power of skills to improve the well-being of communities that are most in need, and to do so in a sustainable way. “

~ TJERK DUSSELDORP Founder WorldSkills Foundation

The Community Plumbing Challenge (CPC) combines multi-disciplinary teams, with a cross-section of expertise to come together, as invited by a community facing sanitation and water supply challenges. The aim is to use the skills of a range of professions, including architecture, plumbing, bricklaying and graphic design, to ensure the challenge produces real, tangible improvements for the hosting community that not only improve health hardware and infrastructure, but also leaves an ongoing monitoring and maintenance plan with new learned skills to the local teams they work with.

Participating teams assembled by universities and WorldSkills delegates from around the world come together to install, test and combine skills and ideas during the one-week challenge to upgrade and install new sanitation infrastructure. Guided by the united vision of Tjerk Dusseldorp, IAPMO and Healthabitat, the format for the CPC has developed into a challenge, rather than competition, guided by the key methodologies that define Housing for Health.

The methodologies include: 

  • No survey without service -No project can commence without the ability to make improvements with a broad range of skilled trades and professionals on day one.
  • The healthy living practices - Application of these key principles, guided by health and medical research, that set out the priorities of any environment to have the best impact on health for children 0-5yrs.
  • Incremental improvement is long term - Progress is often made by slow, methodical, incremental improvement through design, testing, redesign, more testing by a local team and further improvement. 
  • People are part of the solution - No project is started without the invitation of a community and their full involvement during all stages of development, from feasibility, implementation and ongoing maintenance.
  • Data to advocate for change - Using data collected where possible to monitor any success or failures of improvements achieved, as feedback for design and installation. The data also can be used to provide an evidence base local groups to lobby for ongoing improvements for their community and living environments.


2015 marked 30 years since the simple phrase “stopping people getting sick” first guided the work of Healthabitat (HH). In 2014 the Water Innovation Challenge (WIC) was held in Singapore. It was championed by the WorldSkills Foundation, IAPMO,the World Plumbing Council and RMIT. HH supported this event by providing the tasks to be undertaken of the Challenge, which were taken from the real world projects of HH - one in Nepal and one in Bangladesh. Two teams (Team USA and Team Australia) competed in the event that had an obvious WorldSkills competition heritage, where trades compete in a skills ‘Olympics’.

The work was carried out in a public arena within an advanced technical college in Singapore over 4 days. Whilst HH harvested ideas and the idea of multi skill teams was born, no community was directly improved during the event nor was neither team exposed to the communities from which the Challenge tasks were generated.


A tough, constructive review of the Challenge by WSF Chair Tjerk Dusseldorp and staff, on site directly after the Singapore event, produced a firm commitment to repeat the event in 2015 and some fundamental changes.

Some of the important changes were:

  • the name of the event should emphasise the link to real world, community based problems related to plumbing, 
  • if possible, the number of teams competing should be increased,
  • the Challenge should have a community ‘client’ with real needs,
  • the Challenge task should continue to require the work of multi skilled teams,
  • the design brief, issued well before the Challenge, should be more concise and clearly define the tasks to be achieved, 
  • the briefing documents should set out materials available, time frames and costs,
  • there should be more links with the local community during the on-site Challenge.


Cpc Event Thumbnail Formatting 2015 - NASHIK, INDIA 

4 teams came to the event with considered designs, the ideas within all the design work were combined and reworked to ensure the needs of the school were met – this meant teams had to work collaboratively each contributing to the whole. Read more >>

Cpc Event Thumbnail Formatting 2 2016 - DIEPSLOOT, SOUTH AFRICA

The CPC set the challenge to find new and improved design, plumbing and specification ideas for 8 toilet cubicles which were retrofitted and reinstalled in Diepsloot for further testing during the challenge. Read more >>