Improving lives one pump at a time
In a nutshell
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 further developed, validated and expanded Pump for Life, its subscription-based system for well maintenance and repair. Its 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 monitors premium payments, the distribution and functionality of water points, spare part usage and each water point’s history. MSABI draws on elements of modern subscription-based and data-driven systems from other sectors, an approach that’s expected to be a game changer in guaranteeing water access relative to conventional systems.
In the project’s second phase, the Swiss Re Foundation helped Pump for Life strengthen its business model by inviting it to participate in the Foundation’s Global Entrepreneur Program, which leverages the expertise of Swiss Re employees for the benefit of select Foundation partners, as well as by providing it with a financial grant. As a result, Pump for Life decided to diversify its offerings and started installing water tanks equipped with a submersible electrical pump. This new approach not only offers greater convenience for the 200 community users who benefit from each tank, but also – thanks to its higher efficiency and pricing – is key to ensuring a financially viable future for Pump for Life.
As of the end of 2019:
- Approximately 30 000 users were benefiting from Pump for Life’s services.
- All of Pump for Life’s 150 water points were functional.
- A team of 16 mechanics were performing maintenance and repairs.
- Approximately 10 300 maintenance visits were made and digitally tracked, providing a unique dataset for further service improvement.
- Five water tanks of 5 000 litres each were installed and working.
- 100% of user surveyed were satisfied.