The Triple-S Project in Ghana is undertaking a study on the possibility of adopting SMS technology to reduce water facility downtime.
Published on: 03/12/2013
The Triple-S project is being implemented in Ghana by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) with support from the IRC international Water and Sanitation Centre. The experiment is expected to help deal with bottlenecks that affect sustainable water services delivery. The innovation is being piloted in the Sunyani West District of the Brong Ahafo region.
Other stakeholders in the experiment are the Sunyani West District Assembly and Sky Fox Limited, an Information Technology and Services company, who are providing the needed technical assistance.
The SMS-based experiment is aimed at increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the process of reporting handpump breakdown, facility functionality status, ordering of spare parts from dealers and services of Area Mechanics for the repair of non-functional water facilities.
In order to get stakeholder validation, inputs and buy-in of the innovation, a stakeholder engagement workshop was held at the Sunyani West District Assembly, and was facilitated by Triple-S Project and Sky Fox Limited. In attendance were the Sunyani West District staff (Chief Executive, Coordinating Director, Water and Sanitation Team, Budget Analyst, Planning Officers) and the CWSA Regional Water and Sanitation Team.
In a presentation to the stakeholders, Mr Ernest Ekuful of Sky Fox Limited stated that the need for the SMS technology for service monitoring and spare parts ordering is as a result of challenges associated with the current practices which cause prolonged downtime of facilities resulting in unsustainable water service delivery. He said the current situation is confronted with difficulties such as the lack of an up-to-date database on the status of water facilities and limited facility monitoring. There is also limited access to spare parts and spare part shops due to sparsely distribution of facilities in the rural areas. It therefore does not make business sense for suppliers to open spare part shops in every community/district.
The ultimate aim is to improve monitoring of facilities. The SMS system will also offer an easier method of updating the functionality status of facilities compared to current practice and improve spare part distribution across the district no matter the community of location. Caretakers of water facilities will be able to order spare parts through their mobile phone and pay for the parts with a mobile money service. The initiative will therefore help to bring communities into common sustainable and practical supply chain process. An advantage of the SMS technology is that the technology is widely used and available on all phones. There is no need to install new system software. The system will provide an easy way to get frequent updates on the operational status of facilities and the functioning of the spare parts supply chain.
Their inputs will be incorporated into the final design. After, there will be a training programme for facility attendants, Water and Sanitation Management Teams (teams) and area mechanics in the district to introduce them to the system. The district will be divided into three parts for this training purpose. After the initial introductory training, there will also be planned one-on-one mop–up training for those participants who may still be have some difficulties using the system, to help bring them at par with their colleagues for a successful implementation of the system.