Life cannot exist without water, but 748 million people today have no access to an improved water source, according to the World Health Organization. The physical results of this are staggering—600,000 children die to diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe drinking water.
Paradoxically, 2.3 billion people gained access to improved drinking water between 1990–2012 … so why hasn’t the problem been solved? The reason is clear in this startling illustration—in sub-Saharan Africa alone, one-third of rural water systems fail. The systems are there, but fall into disrepair or operate inefficiently. Monitoring rural infrastructure is expensive and time-consuming. As a result, 99% of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) projects lack long-term monitoring infrastructure.
WellDone International, led by Executive Director Austin McGee, CTO Tim Burke and Operations and Finance Lead Ben Armstrong, developed a solution to fill the gap in monitoring and maintaining water systems. Their mission is to build technology and tools that empower resource-constrained communities with the data they need to provide critical infrastructure that lasts.
“In 2007, between $1.2 and 1.6 billion in investment for wells in sub-Saharan Africa was made useless due to lack of monitoring,” said Austin McGee, Executive Director at WellDone. “The immense potential of remote monitoring technology will provide much-needed visibility and accountability within the rural water space.”
WellDone’s Mobile Monitoring (MoMo) solution is a mobile device with physical sensors and an integrated GSM cellular connection. MoMo collects data, like the rate of water flow and electricity usage, and sends the data back to a server, which parses and analyzes it to identify if there’s a need to alert key stakeholders via SMS. Due to the rigors of rural environments, MoMo was designed to be low-cost and operate over long periods with a single, rechargeable battery.
WellDone is currently piloting MoMo in Tanzania in partnership with Maji Safi kwa Afya Bora Ifakara (MSABI or Safe Water for Better Health). To date, 25 prototype devices have been tested in the field for short durations.
“The funding from the Vodafone Americas Foundation will be used to facilitate new deployments and ensure that the service we provide remains in line with the communities we service,” said Tim Burke, CTO at WellDone. “With their support, we will scale our engineering capacity to provide a robust, well-tested product that we are confident can last in the field for up to a decade.”