In June, the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA), one of VIA Water’s partner organizations visited Nairobi, Kenya, for a week of networking and field research. The CFIA is a research centre focused on innovation for consumers at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) in Africa and is part of the strategic alliance between Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam.
One of the meetings was with Upande, a Nairobi based internet, web-based and geographical information systems company founded by Mark de Blois from the Netherlands. Upande is one of VIA Water’s partners in a project that aims to reduce physical water losses by improved data systems. In practice this means that Upande tries to develop smart measuring equipment to install throughout the infrastructure to assess where and when water is lost in the system. From the frugal innovation perspective this type of sensor/measurement technology is interesting (not only in terms of water loss in a fixed-grid water system, but also in terms of measuring water quality and soil fertility for farmers) it provides users with valuable, low-cost information that significantly supports them in running their businesses, resulting in higher efficiency, better allocated resources, and higher yields.