Improving lives one pump at a time
Despite a quadrupling of funding for water and sanitation since 2002, 53% of Tanzania’s population does not have access to clean water. An estimated 50% of water points in the country are broken and abandoned. Attempts to increase the coverage and sustainability of water infrastructure have been undermined by top-down delivery and management models, use of expensive foreign technologies and a lack of skilled mechanics at the community level.
New cost-efficient and locally adapted approaches are needed to improve well coverage and enable communities and governments to keep water points running. Sustainable management of existing infrastructure is key. Repair and rehabilitation are not only cheaper than creating new water points but also more ecological and protective of water resources.
In this project, MSABI is further developing, validating and expanding Pump for Life, its subscription-based system for well maintenance and repair. Customers receive proactive (monthly) maintenance and reactive repair services in exchange for a monthly or annual subscription premium. The premium can be paid through mobile phone money transfer services, making it accessible to people in remote areas with no access to conventional banking.
A decentralised network of private-sector mechanics, who are situated in hub locations to maximise operational efficiency, maintain and repair the water points. An advanced surveillance-response system using information and communication technology (ICT) monitors premium payments, the distribution and functionality of water points, spare part usage and water point history. MSABI draws on elements of modern subscription and data-driven systems from other sectors, an approach which is expected to be a game changer in guaranteeing water access reliability relative to conventional systems.
GOALS AND EXPECTED IMPACT
The project will impact the health, well-being and livelihoods of Pump for Life customers and their communities in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania by, among other things, reducing the incidence of diarrheal disease and stimulating the local private sector. Government and aid agencies will also benefit from the validation and scaling of a cost-efficient water access programme.
MSABI plans to further develop and validate the Pump for Life model over five years, expanding the subscription scheme to an average of 100 additional water points per year – reaching a total of 80 000 people – and proving the concept within the first three years so as to scale up faster thereafter and ultimately achieve financial viability.