Project Maji Using eWaterPay Smart-Technology for Longer Term Sustainability!
Original content from Project Maji.
Did you know that at any given time across sub-Saharan Africa, between 40-60% of handpumps remain broken, simply due to lack of funds to carry out regular maintenance?
A shocking statistic!
Built by well-meaning NGO’s and private donors, handpumps have been the default solution to the water crisis for decades. Yet, without a secure source of funds for ongoing maintenance, when this humble technology malfunctions, there is no means to repair it. This is the reason the continent is littered with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of rusted and abandoned handpumps, leaving rural communities with no choice but to go back to drinking from distant, unsafe, open water sources; putting their health at great risk. An absolute tragedy and one which Project Maji and eWaterPay are working to solve with smart technology!
Welcoming Project Maji with open arms, the people from the village of Finaso-Nkwanta in the Ashanti region of Ghana witnessed a double first for Project Maji. The new installation in their community marks the beginning of our most prestigious and exciting partnership to date, an official collaboration with IFRC & Red Cross Ghana. This inaugural joint project also marks the launch of Project Maji’s new eWaterPay solution. This smart-sustainable technology is completely cashless and ensures that money generated from water sales will be recorded, accounted for, and securely reserved in order to build an ongoing maintenance fund for the village water supply.
Elizabeth* of Finaso-Nkwanta says “It is so easy. Now I can quickly fetch water from the tap, instead of waiting in line at the handpump. I can spend more time with my baby and in my garden. It saves me so much time!”
Paying a nominal fee for water collection from a handpump is commonplace throughout rural Africa. Until now, this has relied on a community nominated “water vendor” to be present at the site to collect cash. However, these vendors are usually only available at certain hours each day due to other responsibilities, leaving the village population with limited time to fetch water for their daily needs, often forming long queues in the early hours of the morning. Additionally, there is rarely any proper recording of sales and accountability for the cash collected over time, often resulting in insufficient funds being available for essential repairs when a handpump breaks, crippling the village of their water supply.
Samuel* 11 years, says “The handpump makes very me tired! I like our new Project Maji water kiosk because I only have to touch my token. It gives me more energy for football!”
The Project Maji eWaterPay solution is a simple yet effective technology designed to overcome these issues; an automated, cash-free solution, with cloud server monitoring, ensuring that money is properly collected and that taps are available 24/7 as they operate electronically and do not need to be manned.
Users are issued with a uniquely identifiable, robust plastic eWaterPay token that digitally stores water credit and is topped up with mobile money (ubiquitous throughout sub-Saharan Africa). To operate, the user simply touches their token to the eWaterPay IOT enabled tap and water starts to pour. When their vessel is full, they remove their token, the water stops, and the correct amount of credit is deducted from their token automatically! The funds collected are digitally stored and held in an account to be available for each village to afford any repairs that may be necessary, ensuring the long term sustainability of their safe water supply.
As with all Project Maji installations, each site is remotely monitored, so that engineers are alerted of any performance issues. Kiosks also have multiple water outlets to facilitate less time queuing, which means women have more time to devote to their families and earn a wage, while children have more time for school and play!
Abel Augustino from IFRC says “Our new partnership with Project Maji is bringing standardised, flexible, and tailor made water-supply and management solutions to rural communities in need, transforming National Red Cross Societies into sustainable, well managed service providers. A local Ghanian example soon to be followed by IFRC WASH (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – Water and Sanitation/Hygiene)
*Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.