October 18, 2021

The First Mobile App for Water Project Maintenance

Building sustainable clean water solutions doesn’t simply stop after a well has been drilled or a new rainwater system installed — that is just the beginning. Regular maintenance and continued monitoring are very important parts of any water project to ensure long-term system success and the continued flow of clean water.

Yet, in a 2011 report, the World Bank found that less than 5% of water projects are visited after they’re constructed, and less than 1% are monitored long-term. This contributes to water project failure in the industry, with 60% of water projects in Africa failing, on average.

Community in Tanzania trying to pump water from broken-down and low-yielding well

Building sustainable clean water solutions doesn’t simply stop after a well has been drilled or a new rainwater system installed — that is just the beginning. Regular maintenance and continued monitoring are very important parts of any water project to ensure long-term system success and the continued flow of clean water.

Yet, in a 2011 report, the World Bank found that less than 5% of water projects are visited after they’re constructed, and less than 1% are monitored long-term. This contributes to water project failure in the industry, with 60% of water projects in Africa failing, on average.

We’re working to change that. At Well Aware, we’ve developed a 100% success model that combines a community-led approach, technical expertise, and ongoing support and maintenance to ensure all of our clean water systems continue to provide this vital resource to their respective communities for generations to come.

And, now, for the first time ever in the industry, we’re leveraging emerging mobile app technology in the developing world to put even more project ownership and knowledge into the hands of local communities to help them keep their water systems up and running for decades.

TAKING PROJECT MAINTENANCE & COMMUNITY TRAINING MOBILE

Mobile technology is rapidly growing and so are its users in East Africa. 45% of adults in developing countries have smartphones, and 70% of sub-Saharan Africa has internet connectivity. That’s why Well Beyond, a social enterprise subsidiary of Well Aware, created a cutting-edge and first-ever mobile application that takes water project maintenance and community training online.

With the Well Beyond app, local leaders can:

  • Access maintenance checklists that are customized to the infrastructure of their specific water project
  • Troubleshoot and resolve maintenance issues with their water system on their own before those issues result in costly repair needs
  • Be trained on further understanding of their water system for better care of the integrity of this infrastructure
  • Be accountable for quarterly reports on the operation of the water system
  • Have access to remote, real-time chat support with our local projects team for troubleshooting needs
  • Have a record of system operation and maintenance needs over time

By deploying this mobile app within our partner communities, we lower the risk of water system maintenance needs, significantly reduce the cost of system repairs, and, in the long run, extend the life and success of each of these water systems. So far, we have deployed the Well Beyond App in 22 of our partner communities across East Africa. Over the summer, six communities experienced maintenance issues with their water systems, and five of them were able to repair this issue on their own with the help of our app.

Checking water spigot at Cheptoroi Primary School

For example, the impact of the app has been realized at Cheptoroi Primary School (Nakuru County, Kenya) and Sweetwaters Girls Secondary School (Laikipia County, Kenya). Both communities encountered issues with float switches in the water storage tanks, which caused signals that turned off the water pumps prematurely. Through the mobile app, our team was able to take the project caretakers through a short procedure of setting up the float switches correctly and had the water flowing again in a few minutes. This is a perfect example of the power of having the community fully responsible for its own water source.

The Well Beyond App is a game-changer for project upkeep and will further enable the long-term success of each of Well Aware’s water projects. We look forward to continuing deployment of this powerful tool, and watching our partner communities thrive with even more ownership of their water systems!

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