2x2x2 Water Challenge for Ethiopia | SYDNEY

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HH continues to engage students in interdisciplinary workshops where they are faced with solving tricky, real-world problems. These challenges ultimately help the communities we work with gain from the student’s innovation, energy and ideas as well as the oversight and contributions of a broad range of professionals that act as mentors, tutors and judges.  

We have just completed the first of the 2x2x2 Challenges in Sydney that was co-ordinated by Nepal Sanitation Studio veteran Jasper Ludewig. Five teams of medical, architecture and engineering students from Sydney University and Notre Dame University came together over the weekend to assemble and test their solutions to achieving efficient face and hand washing with less than 2 litres of water per person. 

Our aim is to find a solution that will contribute to the HH designed toilet for Ethiopia as a combined strategy with The Fred Hollows Foundation to eradicate trachoma in the country. The next Challenge will be held in Brisbane on Saturday the 8th of August.

The Challenge

///  2 x Eyes 2 x Hands 2 x Litres  ///

Develop, design and construct a prototype solution to successfully use less than 2L of water per person, per day (the estimated maximum water available in an Ethiopian village devoted to these specific activities) to achieve the following in order of priority:

  • Washing faces (eyes) 
  • Washing hands
  • Water stored for other uses (such as extra water for drinking and cooking)
  • Washing a concrete toilet floor with wastewater from uses 1 and 2 above

Eradicating Trachoma

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Healthabitat was invited by The Fred Hollows Foundation (TFHF), (who are working in Ethiopia to eradicate trachoma implementing the SAFE strategy; Surgery, Antibiotics, Face Washing and Environmental change) to help with improving  the Face Washing and Environmental change parts of SAFE.

Trachoma is a preventable disease that causes blindness. When people reach the point of surgery they’ve often encountered a lot of pain and some blindness already and it is too late for the other interventions (Antibiotics, Face Washing and Environmental change) to work.
HH have been asked to look at the Face Washing and Environmental change components of SAFE. HH has been to a village site in Ethiopia and have made some preliminary designs for increased water supply to increase the water available for face washing and a toilet system and method of construction to remove human waste safely and reduce flies.

Water is scarce

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Families (of average 5 people) manually collect water daily from well points up to 1.2 km from their houses, for drinking and cooking (a 2.4 km round rip). The water supply will be increased to 20L of water per day for all the needs of each family. Rationing water for basic survival before hygiene will impact on the success of introducing any hygiene practise, if water is scarce and their children are thirsty, face washing may not happen.

For this challenge, we suggest half the ideal daily quota of water goes toward sanitation to make an impact on the Face Washing component of the SAFE strategy.  In a family of five this equates to a total of 10 litres per family or 2L of water, per person, per day for washing faces and hands.

The solution, and the core of this challenge, is how teams can effectively wash the faces and hands of 5 people using only that 2L quota per person. Ideally there will be some unused water left over to give back to other household needs like cooking and drinking. The aim is to use as little water as possible to achieve effective face and hand washing.

In addition, to ensure sanitation and hygiene are maintained, any wastewater resulting from the face and hand washing would be collected and used to clean the (proposed) toilet floor and pan. Teams can use water from the total 10L quota or, better still, re-use the wastewater (used to wash face and hands).


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Students were to design a device/system that would be able to get water on hands and faces to wash away a pre-prescribed amount of dirt, collect and re-use the waste water to clean a marked area on the concrete floor under their device/system. The less water they used for all activities, the better. 



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Replica Dirt: Nutella, vegemite, LSA, Honey
Measure: Equal cupcake cups and painted onto forehead, cheeks and nose of 5 adult faces with same brush


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Dirt: Soil and Water
Measure: 2 x 50 cent pieces at bottom of bucket, each hand had to find a coin before pulling hands out


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Dirt: Soil and Water
Measure: One full cup of soil and dirt, poured and smudged on concrete floor under.

Paper Towel

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After washing, 5 members on each team dried their hands and face on paper towels squares (1 per hands and 1 per face). The marked floor area adjoining the test panel, representing the toilet floor, was blotted with a square of paper towel after washing down by the group.
The judges could review the remaining dirt captured on the paper towels as a measure of the effectiveness of each Team’s system.


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Harry Partridge Partridge Structural

Brian Doolan CEO The Fred Hollows Foundation

Dr. Paul Torzillo Healthabitat

Karin Richards Healthabitat

Adriano Pupilli Architect

Jeff Standen NSW Health, Aboriginal Environmental Health section

Dr Indy Sandaradura, microbiologist, University of Notre Dame Australia

Sydney University Architecture Faculty lecturers and tutors including: Jonathon Temple, Michael Muir, all the
Workshop crew.


Below are some of the solutions found on the day… Please click here to download the report from the day with information on each team and their solution.

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