Here are some examples of how people have started using cell phones to improve WASH services in Africa and Asia:
1. Community Led Total Sanitation Tracking via SMS – In a World Bank WSP funded project in Indonesia, Health Officers and Sanitarians started using SMS to report on baseline conditions and progress on the path towards Open Defecation Free Communities. The officers text in the number of latrines contructed and other key information to a SMS server which processes the information and puts it into some sort of database. According to WSP they will plan to replicate this in 29 districts in the Province.
2. Q&A – IRC International Water and Sanitation Center piloted an SMS based Question and Answer service to link communities and individual users with information related to their water supply. Questions submitted via SMS are (or were) answered by one of the members a Water and Sanitation Network. Questions ranging from the costs of spare hand pump parts to inquiries about low pressure in a piped system in Dar es Salaam have been answered by this service. This pilot project started back in 2005 and I have not received any response by the operators whether they are still in action.
3. Water from Cell Phones – Grundfos, the Danish pump company, launched a new business model called LifeLink. LifeLink is a small water enterprise (see previous post on SWEs) that uses cell phones to transfer “water credits” from the user’s bank account to that of the pump operator. Lifelink constructs a solar powered water kiosk in a community and when someone wants to buy water they add credits to their account thorugh a simple text message transaction. The kiosk displays the users balance after they swipes some sort of pass. After that they are free to have as much water as they can afford.