Mobile SMS to improve information flow on WASH services in Bombo Town council

Post date: Feb 20, 2013 1:56:16 PM

The widespread and rapidly growing use of mobile phones throughout the Uganda offers an exciting new tool for enabling information to flow between water users, and the water service providers, in support of rapid and informed decision-making. Mobile connectivity is out-pacing fixed line telephony around the everywhere, and especially in many of the rural areas of Uganda due to the cost savings in both network infrastructure and individual subscription fees. The numbers are telling: for example in Uganda, there are now 25 to 58 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and in some places this access has even outpaced access to basic services.

On this background, NETWAS Uganda through it's DANIDA funded WASH governance project in Bombo, is piloting an SMS based system to improve dialogue between the service provider and water users. The system will enable water users to report any problems concerning tap water to the service provider who shall respond immediately. The SMS will be sent on a toll free number where they can remotely report conditions such as poor water quality, leakages and so on.

The potential impact of this system is clear and powerful.

The SMS Project will create a highly accessible communication and monitoring system that relies on mobile phones and Internet to develop crowd-sourced map data to improve water and sanitation services for the urban poor. By enabling information about water and sanitation problems to flow among communities, governmental entities, and service providers, this platform will support rapid, informed decision-making on acute and chronic water problems and make the health implications of lack of access to WASH services ‘visible’ to planning agencies and utilities. People with disabilities, such as those with deafness or those who are mutee, can benefit from SMS-based applications to contact service providers.