Helping communities access water, anytime, anywhere
About the project
This project offered a real-time water solution that allows users to remotely monitor available water in tanks/reservoirs in any location, using an online dashboard, mobile app and SMS Messaging. It helped local water service providers to efficiently manage water availability at their water points/kiosks. The overall goal of the project was to create an efficient, affordable and sustainable water access ecosystem. The pilot was carried out in Kibera, Africa’s largest informal settlement located in Nairobi.
Baseline survey: a.o. it provided feedback on erratic shortages of water faced by both households and water service providers.
Increased water consistency.
Improved management and planning of water points.
Better accountability within community run water points.
Water vendor trainings and forums: 8 group meetings were held at the 4 wards of Kibera identified for the project.
Tips for the future
Clear ownership of water points helps obtaining good results
Local availability of parts for the Mobi-Water hardware system saves time
Beware of illegal power connections and theft.
Potential for growth
MobiTech Water Solutions is a start-up with high potential. The founder and his team are very responsive and open to feedback. They managed to win multiple prizes. After piloting the product in Kibera, it became clear to them there is huge market for their product, as there are many other use cases for their system. Scaling of the product revolves around two verticals: first is a Project Model to help improve water access to vulnerable communities by working with donor organizations and water utilities. Second vertical is a more Commercial Model where they provide solutions to help businesses and home owners to improve their water management.
MobiTech Water Solutions Limited
September 2017 – December 2018
Last project updates
Kibera is located in Nairobi and is one of Africa’s largest informal urban settlements. Population varies widely but roughly 200,000-250,000 people live on 630 acres. Most of the population in Kibera live on under $1 a day typically and have no direct access to running water. So most Kiberans (roughly 75-85%) acquire water by making daily purchases at kiosks from private vendors, who (legally or illegally) tap into water supplied by the Nairobi Water Company. Most of the water points in Kibera are owned by individual operators and local CBO, Nairobi water, the main water utility in Nairobi only supplies piping to the edge of the informal settlement and and through the 'Maji Mkononi' pilot we will be learning, integrating and testing different hypotheses on the best model to scale our model throughout the country.
The 'Maji Mkononi' Pilot will be carried out over a period of one year beginning 01/09/2017 and will involve four quarters with stipulated implementation milestones. It will involve;
1. Conduct Baseline and Field survey.
2. Compile and Analyze field survey reports.
3. Identify possible Water Providers during the survey.
4. Submit Inception report/Q1 based on the baseline survey.
1. Conduct Water Provider Stakeholder Forum and System Demonstration.
2. Recruitment of Water Providers; target is 100 within this quarter.
3. Conduct Community stakeholder forum to create awareness of the USSD Platform, identify relevant information they will need in the platform.
4. Purchase system components and installation in 30% of the targeted water points.
5. Configuration of WASHMIS Dashboard and commencement of integration of USSD Platform.
6. Document and Submit Quarter 2 Report.
1. Completion of installation and testing of Water Monitoring Systems in the 100 community water points.
2. Completion and testing of Dashboard and USSD Platform.
3. Second Water Provider stakeholder forum.
4. Second Community Stakeholder forum to demonstrate, test and receive feedback on the USSD Platform.
5. Commence community awareness campaigns to get communities members to use the platform.
6. Document and Submit Quarter 3 Report.
1. Third Stakeholder Feedback forum with the Water Providers.
2. Third Stakeholder Feedback forum with the Community members.
3. Community Awareness campaigns to get users on the USSD Platform, objective is 300 daily users during this period.
4. Commence Monitoring and Evaluating of the Maji Mkononi on the community.
5. Quarter 4 report and Full Project Report including Monitoring and Evaluation report.
The 'Maji Mkononi' pilot targets the Bottom of the Pyramid community members who live on less than $1 a day and have no access to piped water in their homestead so they have to daily head out to search for water. Their main source of water are local community water points which are mainly run by Community Based Organizations(C.B.O.s), N.G.O.s, individuals and afew by the local water municipality. But while Kiberans often lack easy, low-cost access to water and face pervasive uncertainty about water quality, mobile phone penetration is very high: in most of Kibera’s 13 villages, nearly every household has at least one mobile phone; which is why we intend to use this to provide information on water availability. Women in this area may spend hours of their productive time in search of water, or waiting in long queues, which in most cases the water may be of poor quality. They leave their homes and close down their businesses in search of water sometimes to no avail. This destabilizes their business as customers have to look to other places where same goods services are rendered.
We plan to use the FIETS Sustainability Approach for the 'Maji Mkononi' Pilot project. This will involve:
The financial sustainability model for the Maji Mkononi model is based on a Pay As You Go model where water providers will pay a minimal deposit and the remaining cost of the system will be stretched over a period of months where they will pay for the system through monthly installments. However, during the duration of the pilot, the water providers will not pay for the system or services as we will still be paying testing various hypothesis during the pilot as well as involving them in coming up with a flexible and affordable payment plan. Once the pilot period is over and successful and the water providers are satisfied with the system, they will then begin to make the payments. The revenue generated from this payments will then be used as capital to expand the model to other areas and water points in Kibera. This will provide the financial sustainability and running capital as we grow the model.
Although majority of the community water points in the pilot location are owned by individual operators and Local Community Organizations, most of them largely depend on water supply from the local municipal, Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company. We believe that by sharing this data with them, historical and real time water availability data, we will enable them to strengthen and increase accountability in water distribution in the area, identify gaps in distribution, consistency and availability of water to communities. Information sharing across the water value chain, i.e. between the water providers and the communities, also strengthens the relationships between these stakeholders and creates an inclusive water value chain relationship.
Water remains a scarce resource in Nairobi and in Kenya as a whole. Now more than ever with increase in climate change effects, we need to be accountable and manage this scarce resource. Our model allows the efficient management and use of water within the water value chain. Data collected from our system can be used to identify inefficiencies in water distribution and project water demand in communities which will be key in promoting efficient management of water. Our low-cost water monitoring technology is also designed to be energy efficient, having low power consumption making it easily adaptable to run on solar power without any significant increase in cost.
Our innovative water monitoring technology was locally designed by our founder and our current technical team which makes it very easy to maintain and ensure its long term use at the water-points. By making the system SMS based, the system and data from the system can be easily accessed through any basic mobile phone and water point operators will be able to easy trouble-shoot the system using their mobile phone once they are trained by our staff. At MobiTech, we believe that simple, locally designed technology will be key to ensuring our system and our model remain sustainable. As such we are constantly doing research and development to improve our systems with collaboration from other water stakeholders.
Maji Mkononi offers an inclusive model that allows sharing of information amongst water service providers and community members. Social sustainability plays a key role to the success of our system which is one of our key activities is community engagements and community feedback mechanisms which will be key to the acceptance and use of our service by the community. Community engagement also assists use to address the actual needs, demands and gaps faced by the community in accessing water in Kibera. It will also help us assess how availability of water availability information to the community helps them make decisions on fetching of water for their homesteads.
Overview of Goals
The Main objective of the project is to offer an affordable and innovative platform that allows information sharing between community members and water providers to create a sustainable and efficient water access ecosystem.
The Specific objectives are to:
● Reduce time taken by community members to locate available water points.
● Help Water Service Providers in monitoring water level trends and predicting future water demand in specific regions.
● Increase sustainable water availability for household purposes.
● Build capacity of local community on water supply, health and hygiene.
● Document and disseminate information, and share experiences on lessons learnt among various shareholders.
The pilot also seeks to act as a learning platform for the model and will seek to address the following purposes. Key things we would like to learn from this pilot include:
From the Community:
● What is the effects of the access to water information to communities to their choice in water point?
● How does water availability information affect the time communities spend fetching water?
● How does water availability information affect the cost spent purchasing water?
● What price would communities be willing to pay to use the USSD service to access water availability information?
● What is the most useful water information communities require from the USSD Platform?
From the Water Providers:
● How does the availability of real time water level information and alerts affect the consistency in water availability at their water points?
● What price are the Water providers willing to pay for the water monitoring system?
● What are the current water distribution trends and water availability at the water points? (Cartels mainly control water distribution inside informal settlements and are known to create artificial water shortages, by analyzing data from the water points, we might derive trends in the distribution by these cartels)
About the Maji Mkononi model:
● How is the Maji Mkononi model perceived by the different client groups in the water value chain?
● What is the uptake in use of the USSD platform? When do they use the platform? Number of daily users and frequency of use?
● What are the water distribution gaps and proposed solutions to solve them?
● What are the needs of the different clients?