eWATERpay WORKING WITH USAID IN TANZANIA SOLVING THE WATER SUPPLY MAINTENANCE CRISIS
A USAID programme in Tanzania, Water Resources Integration Development Initiative (WARIDI) is partnering with British technology company, eWATERpay to pilot a smart meter technology that allows community members to pre-pay for water at village water points. The eWATERpay technology ensures that all payments for water are tracked, accountable, and transparently used by water authorities to pay for needed maintenance and improvements to the water system.
The eWATERpay technology allows users to pre-pay for water through their mobile money accounts, or cash, and use their water credit – loaded onto their household’s eWATERpay tag– to access water at any eWATERpay tap. Water credit can also be purchased from anywhere in the world, so governments, charities or any individuals can top up the eWATER mobile wallets of any eWATER registered account. This means that water credit can be transferred to schools, health clinics and relatives and every cent tracked in the cloud to ensure full accountability. eWATERpay also provides water operators with a digital dashboard that captures and processes huge volumes of real-time data on litres of water sold to each household, revenue collected, number of users at each water point, and any detected leaks or malfunctions in the water system. WARIDI and eWATERpay are starting with pilots in four villages, initially serving 23,000 people.
In Tanzania – and across Sub-Saharan Africa – the biggest issue impacting upon access to clean water is maintenance. Currently, billions of dollars are spent by donors and governments installing new systems, but unless they can be sustainably maintained, eventually, they break and people have to go back to using unsafe water. Every village in Tanzania has already had investment in clean water infrastructure, but over half of village systems are non-functional.
Transparent financing for maintenance is key. If water authorities do not collect enough revenue to maintain the water infrastructure, eventually it breaks, and people who have previously paid cash to water authorities either through a tap attendant, or monthly fee, do not trust the operators any more. A cycle of poor maintenance and deterioration in the village water systems then continues
The eWATERpay solution is a method to allow users to pay affordable water fees for the water they consume. People living in Tanzania want to pay for access to clean water; they pay for their mobile phones, transport or Pay Go Home Solar systems currently because they trust the operating model. Using eWATERpay technology gives people confidence that their fees are being used by the water operator to maintain their system.
WARIDI and eWATERpay, with the programme co-ordinated by Tetra Tech, are starting with pilots in four villages, initially serving about 23,000 people. If this initiative is successful, the partnership could enhance the operations and maintenance of water systems, significantly increase water revenue collection and create jobs for youth and women as sales agents, installers and technicians. eWATERpay recently won the 2018 Global Mobile Award for “Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs,” at the GSMA Mobile World Congress.
The eWATERpay system builds the capacity of community water operators – in terms of reduced costs, enhanced revenues, and improved information related to the functionality of water systems. While WARIDI and eWATERpay are co-financing the initial pilot installations, community water operators will pay a monthly fee, based on local water revenues, to maintain the service. In this way, the WARIDI-eWATERpay partnership will promote, test, and scale a tool that enhances the management and self-reliance of community water authorities, enhancing local ownership and improved service quality beyond WARIDI.
According to the World Bank, tens of thousands of Tanzanians – including over 18,000 young children – die every year from diarrheal disease. Most of these deaths can be linked to unclean water and poor sanitation. Despite continued development gains, over 23 million people in Tanzania lack access to clean water.