Project Lead(s): Arjen Swank
Inadequate access to clean water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities.
Water management in low- and middle-income countries continues to rely on paper-based bookkeeping, but could be more effective and efficient by directly involving and engaging grassroots communities, by using mobile phones to expedite maintenance and repair of water systems.
The project developed FLOW SMS, which applied existing, low-cost, mobile technology to radically improve management of access to water for under-served communities.
As part of an effort to increase access to sanitation and hygiene, TTC Mobile, in collaboration with Akvo, uses mobile technology to bring clean water to communities in Uganda.
The main concept involves using SMS technology to allow communities to create crowd-sourced information regarding pump functionality, including geo-tagged information on these water sources.
This data is fed into an online dashboard that can be accessed by district officials to monitor and respond to functionality issues, in conjunction with local hand pump mechanics.
As a result, governments benefit from the access to effective water management tools at the most basic level.
Over the 12-month study period, Akvo’s Flow data collection tool was used on smartphones to map water sources and TTC Mobile’s Vusion platform was used to create a feedback system via SMS between water users, hand pump mechanics and the District Water Office, to ensure water source functionality and constant monitoring of the system.
The biggest achievement of the project was the successful use of SMS as a tool for crowd-sourcing data on pump functionality and water quality, and for spreading information to hard-to-reach communities in Uganda.
Kamwenge and Kyegegwa have a total of 2,500 water sources, including pumps, shallow wells, protected springs, etc. Of these 2,500 water sources, around 750 are deep boreholes or public tap stands.
Over the first two-month period of using the SMS platform, the innovators received 500 reports on pump functionality and water quality.
SMS can be used not just in the water industry, but also in other areas (such as health and agriculture) to provide a means of quick data and feedback collection from communities.
Community members directly benefited from this intervention through education on hygiene/sanitation, advocacy for improved water supply in their communities and reduced repair time for their water sources.
Knowledge of the project has been circulated at conferences.