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Published on: 09/02/2015

The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) guidelines for rural water provision require that non-functional handpumps are fixed within three days. However, many broken-down handpumps do not meet this requirement. A survey conducted in three districts by the Triple-S project revealed that, 34% of 474 of point sources were unreliable (i.e. broken-down for more than 18 days in a year). Sometimes, service downtime is prolonged by the time spent to report faults, seek technical assistance and purchase spare parts.

To address these bottlenecks, SkyFox Limited, a private company based in Ghana developed an innovation which uses mobile phone technology to facilitate reduction in service downtime. The experiment was piloted in the Sunyani West District in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana and built on work done by the Direct Support Committee of CWSA to identify problems and gaps along the spare parts supply chain and their effects on service downtime. 

The experiment sought to establish to what extent rural populations can use SMS technologies to improve their access to spare parts, timely repairs of hand pump break downs and routine tracking of functionality of rural water supply systems. To strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to use the system, training workshops were organised by Triple-S and SkyFox Limited for Water and Sanitation Management Teams (WSMTs), caretakers, Area Mechanics and key district staff.

SkyFox is using the platform to check breakdown reports. The Triple-S team and the Sunyani West District Assembly use data from the SMS platform to undertake targeted follow-up visits to communities. This experiment will be taken forward under the Hilton Foundation project and the results will feed into the SMARTerWASH project.

Find out more about the SMS system in the presentation 'Reducing downtime of hand pumps using sms technology, Ghana', prepared by Thyra Carolyn Kumasi, May 2013..

For more information contact IRC Ghana Country Director, Vida Duti.

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