Project Results: 


Easier access to water quality data through a smartphone-based testing system

About the project
This project aimed at improving drinking water quality through a more accurate measurement system. The central laboratory of SOMAGEP – the main Malinese drinking water company - is analyzing this water quality, which is essential for public health. However, the sampling processes were not as developed and optimized as they could be. To provide SOMAGEP easier access to reliable water quality data, AKVO Caddisfly was introduced: a simple, low cost, open source smartphone-based water quality testing system, connected to an online data collection platform.

Key results

  • Training sessions to enable the staff of SOMAGEP to make full use of the Akvo tools and online platform, the latter meant to manage, visualize and share data continuously.

  • Integration of all actors at national level to safeguard water resources and the quality of the drinking water produced.

  • Enabling leakage repair teams to directly test the water quality after a repair, and send the results to the laboratory: no more need for laboratory analysts to go to the site for physio-chemical analysis.

Tips for the future

  • Non-conformity processes take up a lot of time to be improved since there are many actors.

  • Digitalized data that are directly available to the lab analysts hugely improves the efficiency and effectivity of their work. This should be a crucial element in the future process of scaling.

Potential for growth
SOMAGEP can significantly improve the water quality by testing more regularly and efficiently in the future, upgrading health conditions of over 10 million people. Scaling up this successful project seems promising: the organizations involved are eager for more collaboration after this rich teamwork.

Project partners
World Waternet, SOMAGEP, Akvo

September 2017 – May 2019


Bamako (and 17 other major cities in Mali), Mali


SOMAGEP (SOciété MAlienne de GEstion de l’Eau Potable) is the Malian public company, and the only one dedicated to water supply management in urban areas. Good supply of potable water is essential for life and Mali’s development. Mali is a landlocked country in West-Africa with Bamako as largest city and capital. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometers. Mali has a population of 17.5 million people (2016) with 2 million living in Bamako.

The country is divided into ten regions plus the capital Bamako, with most of the population living in the southern regions. The northern part of Mali lays within the Sahara Desert, while the southern part features the Niger and Senegal Rivers. The Niger River is 4700 km long of which 1700 km flows through Mali. The river originates in the Fouta-Djalon in Guinea and joins the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. Its two main tributaries are the Sankarani and the Bani. The river enters the country in the South West and flows North/Northeast with a spectacular inner-delta around Mopti. Six of Mali’s major cities are located close to the Niger River (Bamako, Koulikoro, Ségou, Mopti, Tombouctou, and Gao) which makes it an essential source for drinking water production.

The second major river in Mali is the Senegal river which is formed when two smaller rivers, the Bakoye and the Bafing, merge. Both rivers have their origin in Guinea and flow North-West through Mali. The Senegal river is the main source of drinking water in the region of Kayes.

In addition to the Niger and the Senegal rivers, the Bakoye river is also used as a source for drinking water production. Its length is about 400 kilometres and is non-navigable. This waterway is a moderately abundant but has an extremely irregular stream. The average monthly flow observed in May (dry-season) reaches only 0.2 m3/s (barely 200 liters), more than 3000 times less than the average flow of September, indicating its very large seasonal irregularity. This river is the source of drinking water in the city of Kita.

Another important source for drinking water, especially for the city of Bougouni is the Baoulé which is the major tributary of the Bakoye river. The Baoulé rises in the south-west hills of Mali, near the Guinean border. Its length is about 500 kilometers and is not navigable. Baoulé means “red river” in Manding (West African local language).

Finally, the Sankarani river is the last major source of drinking water exploited by SOMAGEP in the city of Sélingué. Sankarani, a tributary of the Niger river, crosses three countries: Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. With its 400 km length, Sankarani is an abundant stream and quite well fed in all seasons. The average monthly flow observed in March (minimum of low water) reaches 53 m3 / s, which is 18 times less than the average flow in September.

Different sources of water require different treatment strategies. In addition to surface water, SOMAGEP also uses groundwater as a source for drinking water production. To understand the treatment procedures, it is important to know where the water comes from exactly. From UN research on the depth and quality of groundwater in Mali, we learn the following:

“In the crystalline basement rocks, groundwater occurs in fractures and is more abundant where weathered overlying layers (overburden) are thickest. Water-level variations in the crystalline basement are large and the average depth of wells is 60 m”.

Elsewhere in the Lower Cambrian and Palaeozoic formations, groundwater availability depends on local lithology and degree of fracturing. Groundwater levels are less deep and mainly concentrated in the top 20–60 meter. Water levels are typically 10–25 m below surface (Gourma Basin of south-central Mali) and wells constructed in this area have had a low rate of success.

Finally, the Continental Intercalaire is the greatest water bearing formation in Mali. As a result of its location in the northern Sahel and Saharan areas, it is largely only exploited in the west and on the southern edge of the Adrar des Iforas. Producing wells in the formation can be extremely deep, over 150 meters or according to others groundwater levels may also be up to 100 m deep.

Project Plan

Activity 1.1
During the survey design, the Akvo caddisfly survey will be designed and adapted to the needs of SOMAGEP. The water quality parameters are set, but additional information about the site, the condition of the infrastructure and the use of the sample point can be described. This will enable SOMAGEP to get a better understanding of the conditions and circumstances the data is gathered. This qualitative data will enable SOMAGEP to respond more specific to any non-conformity measured.

Akvo: adapting the survey according to wishes SOMAGEP
SOMAGEP & WWn: design survey and set criteria under which to execute the survey.

Activity 1.2
During the preparation phase of this project, Akvo will give training sessions on the use of Akvo Flow and Akvo Caddisfly to enable the staff of SOMAGEP to fully understand the use of the tools that will be used in the field for geo-locating and water quality testing. Akvo will train SOMAGEP in the use and management of the Akvo Flow platform, which allows SOMAGEP in future to use the tool in an autonomous way. During the training surveys will be jointly created, tested and improved. SOMAGEP will learn to create and modify surveys, to manage users of the platform, to send surveys to smartphones for data collection, to receive the data on the platform and use this for analysis and visualisation, and how to train enumerators in the use of the application for data collection in the field.

Akvo: lead partner & trainer
SOMAGEP: beneficiary, hosts and participates in trainings
WWn: partner and advisor to SOMAGEP

Activity 1.3
All the existing sampling points will be reassessed for their relevance. The current points are designed by evaluating the water quality at crucial points, which are:
• Outdoors of water treatment plant (SS for “sortie station”)
• Intermediary point (PI for “point intermédiaire”)
• Reservoir (CH for “Château”)
• End of network (BR for “Bout de reseau”)
Beyond existing points that are currently used, new sampling points have to be implemented due to the construction of new plants. Those new facilities designed to cover the increasing demand, obviously, lead to the increase of water quality awareness as explained.

WWn: Expert and advisor
Activity 1.4
Akvo-Caddisfly needs to be technically prepared to store data of the Colorimeter MD610. This needs technical compliance of the different instruments and software.
Roles: Akvo: technical and ICT input

Phase II (DECEMBER 2017 – AUGUST 2018)
Activity 2.1 & 2.3
During these activities, Enumerators will visit all 13 sites to geo-locate all sampling points identified during activity 1.3 using Akvo Flow. Samples will be analysed on site (in the field) with Caddisfly and in the lab in order to specify the quality of water for the relevant parameters.

SOMAGEP: actor
Akvo: assistance
WWn: Supervision

Activity 2.2
SOMAGEP and WWn will analyse the current procedures for nonconformity. What actions are taken when the lab-results show a nonconformity and how long does it take before the NONconformity is a conformity again. After a thorough analysis, we jointly (together with the production and distribution departments within SOMAGEP) look for improvements in this process.
Role: SOMAGEP and WWn will jointly analyse and develop processes.

Activity 2.4
This is an essential step in which we will communicate firstly to all SOMAGEP staff in the concerned cities. After that, the local authorities will be informed and updated on the new project (approaches and tools). As a result, relevant stakeholders will know about this project and its intensions. So that, the SOMAGEP staff can get ready to adopt the change about the new nonconformity treatment process. We will adopt a participative method so that the project will be broadly embedded in the organisation and relevant institutions.
Role: SOMAGEP will initiate (and lead) this activity. Akvo and WWn are assisting when needed

Activity 2.5
With the improved procedures for nonconformities, SOMAGEP and WWn will get into an iterative process of decreasing responds time. This action cycle will be repeated throughout the 9 months implementation phase. This activity focuses on decreasing the response time when nonconformities are detected. During The detection of nonconformities by Akvo Caddisfly in the field should lead to testing in the laboratory and if a nonconformity is confirmed, it should initiate a process of action. The response time to nonconformities will decrease since the data are available for everybody (Laboratory, Production and Distribution).
Role: Waternet and SOMAGEP will jointly work on this activity.

Activity 2.6
During this activity the collected data will be verified according to specific indicators identified. Plus, the database will be checked regarding data lost. With Carto DB, every concerned department at SOMAGEP will have an easy access to data. In that way the database will be subject of improvement through comments.
Role: SOMAGEP: actor
Akvo: assistance
WWn: Supervision

Activity 2.7 & 2.8
The data will be available throughout SOMAGEP with Akvo tools for interpretation. A water quality map will be available to guide SOMAGEP activities: equipment maintenance, distribution network survey, etc.
Roles: SOMAGEP and WWn will jointly develop the insights in what data is most relevant for the different departments within SOMAGEP. Akvo will deliver and support the tools that make this physically (and visually) possible.

Activity 2.9
After nine months of implementation, SOMAGEP and WWn will draw a conclusion on what is the best procedure for decreasing responds time. The integration of the new and existing processes will be carried out through a mutual consultation within SOMAGEP. This integration will benefit from the large experience and expertise of WWN. New working procedures will be implemented for a convenient use of digitized data. Moreover, a new network maintenance will be drew up base on the water quality map.

Roles: SOMAGEP and WWn will jointly develop new procedures.

Activity 2.10
Monthly, the project team will share the activities and report the difficulties. Having everybody at the same level of information is one the key for success.
Roles: monitoring and reporting will be initiated by SOMAGEP, supported by Akvo and WWn.

Phase III (SEPTEMBER 2018)
Activity 3.1 & 3.2 & 3.3
The evaluation phase mainly aims to ensure sustainability of the work. Therefore, dissemination workshops will be organized within SOMAGEP, but involving relevant stakeholders. This is especially important for decision-makers within SOMAGEP, but also for those closely related to SOMAGEP, such as ‘Laboratoir National de l’Eau’ (LNE), ‘Direction National Hydraulique’ (DNH) and the Ministry of Water.
Analysis and evaluation will be performed on processes and plans on improving response time to nonconformities. Assessment and comparison of available strategies will be the baseline to react on nonconformities at production and distribution department. In light of Akvo innovative tools a new process will be set up about every step: non conformity detection, information sharing, action to be taken to correct water quality, duration of fixing the non-conformity. Proposition and assay of integration of process will be done in tandem SOMAGEP departments.

Target group

This project will be implemented in cooperation with World Waternet, SOMAGEP, and Akvo. Akvo’s technology for water quality testing ‘Akvo Caddisfly’ will be used and World Waternet will provide their knowledge and expertise to embed the changes into a broader context. The aim of this project is to realise a SOMAGEP water quality mapping. Easier access to water quality data will enable SOMAGEP to obtain better insight into the quality-processes of their drinking water production and distribution systems.


GeoWaQu Project @ SOMAGEP is an innovative project that will help the Malian water company to save money on several levels:
Water management: currently in case of nonconformity in the distribution network, SOMAGEP staff just through water away till right water quality come out (total clean-up). This process can take quite long time as consequence a huge amount of water is wasted. This project is an innovative and accurate way to avoid nonconformities. But if by any chance, nonconformities came out this project will set up a procedure to fix it as soon possible. Tens of cubic meter can be wasted during a distribution network clean-up. The miss to win is important, indeed a cubic meter is charged 0,158 EUR (103 FCFA) plus labor costs, energy, water treatment chemicals, indirect production costs, etc. With all the cities, SOMAGEP can have several nonconformities per day. The loss therefore amounts, more or less, to 100 EUR per day.

Distribution network survey: The data collected during this project and after will be interpreted in order to make a network preventive maintenance. Thus, this relevant preventive maintenance will keep SOMAGEP from spending money for curative maintenance and large scale renovation works. The laying of a section of distribution network depends on many parameters but can reach 750 EUR.

Savings thank to this project can be reinvested into water quality awareness. After this project, the CLD will continue data collection quarterly and manage data in the footprint of GeoWaQu Project @ SOMAGEP. Production and Distribution staff in SOMAGEP should not watch water quality because they can not be judge and be judged. Thus, water quality control will be centralised by the CLD. So SOMAGEP will fund the CLD water quality awareness with the purpose of providing potable water all the time.

SOMAGEP and World Waternet are engaged in a long term collaboration. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Malian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of October 2016, both organisations are now drafting a more specific Water Operator Partnership (WOP). It is expected that both the CEOs of SOMAGEP and World Waternet will sign (the MoU on) this WOP in May 2017.

Besides the sustainability of this project in itself, the on-going collaboration between SOMAGEP and WWn will embed the activities and results in a solid and sustainable environment in which knowledge and expertise is easily accessible for SOMAGEP. These conditions of sustainable cooperation will be further extended under the recently granted WaterWorX program, in which the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs boosts WOPs to create the enabling environment for external investments.

Per Diems are used for SOMAGEP-staff that need to work in other cities or different locations within the same city (for example Bamako). Accommodation and food will be covered by the Per Diem

Overview of Goals

Improve the data collection process: digitize the tests and streamline the system setup for the analysis of water points. Setting up a computer platform will allow the results of geo-localized tests to be collected in real time.
· Add geo-locations with the use of Akvo Flow,
· Increase the frequency and locations to do testing with the use of Akvo Caddisfly (reduce costs by indicative testing and specify laboratory tests to locations that have been indicated with bad quality water)
· Increase the rapidity of the data collection process (data immediately available)
2. Improve the data valorisation process:
· Identify indicators and how to visualise and interpret the data
· Use of new tools to do frequent visualisations with improved accessibility for a larger number of actors (Carto DB, Akvo Lumen)
· Integration of new and existing tools
3. Decrease response time:
· Integration in Water Safety Plans
· Introduce new procedures
· Streamline work processes between CLD and production and distribution units
4. Create a group of institutes/actors that have access to the water quality data, follow the results and make decisions based on the results (SOMAGEP, SOMAPEP, Ministry of Energy and Water, Direction Nationale de l’Hydraulique, ABFN, Kaicedra Consulting, etc.).
· Involve actors in project processes
· Organize partners-meetings for dissemination
This project team is already in close contact with other VIA WATER projects in Mali (ABFN and KAICEDRA Consulting). Several meetings have been held in order to create synergy:
 Share experiences and results among the projects;
 Implementation of an AKVO Lumen platform for sharing and exploitation of data from all the projects;
 Keep in touch for new perspectives.

ABFN: Pollution measurement of river water (quality of physicochemical and bacteriological
KAICEDRA Consulting: List and disseminate WASH issues via a web platform

5. Finally, the sharing at national level and throughout Africa will strengthen the professional network of water sector. WWn has been partnering with ONEE (Morocco) since 2010 on various subject. Also have ONEE and WWn jointly organized a training for the regional water authorities in Burkina Faso. ONEA (Burkina Faso) on the other hand, has been a very relevant stakeholder in the partnership that WWn started with Agence de l’Eau de Gourma in 2014. We believe that a very interesting exchange can be established between them on geo-locating water quality data: ONEA being a peer of SOMAGEP, ONEE a further advanced West Africa partners and WWn an European example.

Results and indicators