a community effort to bring open data practices to the WASH sector

Lars Schöbitz

Global Health Engineering

February 23, 2024

openwashdata community

openwashdata community


An active global community that applies FAIR principles (Wilkinson et al. 2016) to data generated in the great water, sanitation, and hygiene sector.


Empower WASH professionals to engage with tools and workflows for open data and code.

The Opportunity

Journal Articles

Journal Articles

PDF reports

PDF reports

PDF reports + Dropbox

PDF reports + Dropbox

The Journey

The Product

What does final look like?

Screenshot of the wasteskipsblantyre R package documentation homepage at


Our channels

One-way communication

Two-way engagement

course: data science for openwashdata

Zoom for 10 modules over 2 months at the following times:

  • Start: 31st October 2023 - 2 pm to 4:30 pm CET
  • End: 20th February 2024 - 2 pm to 4:30 pm CET

Registration open for next course:

  • free
  • provides participants with a certificate
  • using exclusively tools that are free and open source
  • offers 1:1 coding support for a final project with own data

course: data science for openwashdata 001

  • 200 registrations
  • 110 show-ups
  • expected 40 graduates all with a reproducible data analysis report (paper)
  • motivating graduates to publish underlying data with openwashdata

openwashdata collaboration

Funding - ETH ORD (Open Research Data) Explore programme

Phase 1

  • Funding: 150’000 CHF (3 million ZAR) for 18 months ends 30 August 2024
  • Goals:
    • Setup infrastructure
    • Build community
    • Design course
    • Define workflows

Phase 2

  • Funding: due date for 2nd call is 29 February 2024
  • Goals:
    • Establish strategic partnerships / Governance
    • Grow data science competency
    • Increase data discover-ability

Sketch of Phase 2 proposal

Strategic partnership UKZN

  • Co-funding of a data steward for 12 months (we secure for 24 months)
  • Works at and for UKZN WASH R&D Center
  • Collaborates with openwashdata to publish research data
  • Establishes draft data management strategy for UKZN WASH R&D Center


  • Activity 1.3: Identify how ethical approval for data collection differs for types of organizations (university, NGO) and types of data (quantitative, qualitative).

  • Activity 1.4: Identify current data management practices and develop a draft data management strategy for organization.

  • Activity 1.5: Publish at least five datasets of two different types that are available to the organization, following openwashdata data publishing workflow.

Teaching collaboration

ETH4D Teaching Stay Grant

  • Funding: 5’000 CHF (100’000 ZAR)
  • Proposal: due 30 April 2024
  • In-kind contributions from GHE and UKZN WASH R&D Center encouraged
  • Goals:
    • Establish a teaching collaboration between ETH and UKZN
    • Develop a course drawing from “data science for openwashdata”
    • Deliver the course at UKZN WASH R&D Center
    • Link with students/researchers at ETH
  • Course delivery: 10 weeks between October and December 2024

Thanks 🌻

This project was supported by the Open Research Data Program of the ETH Board.

This material is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International.


Greene, Nicola, Sarah Hennessy, Tate W. Rogers, Jocelyn Tsai, and Francis L. de los Reyes III. 2021. “The Role of Emptying Services in Provision of Safely Managed Sanitation: A Classification and Quantification of the Needs of LMICs.” Journal of Environmental Management 290 (July): 112612.
Mupinga, Ratidzaishe T, Tanaka M Chatema, Savanna R Perumal, Eva Mary, et al. 2021. “Addendum of Data Related to Drying of Faecal Sludge from on-Site Sanitation Facilities and Fresh Faeces.” Gates Open Res 4 (188): 188.
Soeters, S, P Mukheibir, and J Willetts. 2021. “Treatment Technologies in Practice: On-the-Ground Experiences of Faecal Sludge and Wastewater Treatment.”
Wilkinson, Mark D., Michel Dumontier, IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Gabrielle Appleton, Myles Axton, Arie Baak, Niklas Blomberg, et al. 2016. “The FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship.” Scientific Data 3 (1).
Yesaya, Mabvuto, Limbani Msuku, Elizabeth Tilley, and Sebastian Camilo Loos. 2023. “Wasteskipsblantyre: Locations of Public Waste Skips in Blantyre, Malawi.”