SMARTerWASH Monitoring of Rural Water and a Community Water and Public Private Partnership
(BY MRS. PAULINE E. P. TAMBRO – CHIEF PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER)
An important element of ensuring the provision of sustainable water services is having a robust and comprehensive monitoring system that provides continuous reliable data required for remedial, corrective action and strategic planning. Effective monitoring of the functionality and service levels of rural water and sanitation facilities is key to sustainable delivery of water and sanitation to beneficiary communities.
But the lack of adequate funds and logistical supplies for effective monitoring to ensure the functionality of these facilities scattered nationwide is adversely affecting rural water and sanitation services delivery. These apart, the challenge of easy access to and regular supply of spare parts for regular maintenance of water facilities to ensure maximum functionality are major factors affecting sustainability. The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in partnership with IRC Ghana, has developed an innovative project called SMARTerWASH to address the challenge of monitoring in the subsector.
SMARTerWASH,as the name depicts is a smart and innovative Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), the International Water and Sanitation Center (IRC) and Akvo of the Netherlands, Skyfox, a Ghanaian private company, Water For People (WFP), USA and Rabobank Group of the Netherlands that seeks to develop simple tools for monitoring and data collection in the rural water and sanitation sub sector. Simply put, SMARTerWASH is the use of Smart Mobile Phones in Monitoring Rural Water and Sanitation Services to ensure functionality and sustainable services to rural communities and small towns.
The three-year project is being funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Agentschap.nl (Agency.nl) which is the implementing agency of the Government of the Netherlands. With a total cost of Euro3,812,709 of which Euro2,220.000 is the maximum subsidy, the project began in April 2013 and will end on March 31, 2016.
Private funding is being provided by Cisco Systems and Konrad Hilton Foundation through Akvo, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through IRC Ghana, Skyfox and the IDA World Bank through the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA).
The SMARTerWASH project seeks to develop the capacity of stakeholders at the national, regional, district and community levels to use mobile systems to monitor water and sanitation services and to use policy, planning and operations to ensure good quality services THAT LAST.
In this regard, the project will establish the tools and systems for nationwide and long term monitoring of WASH services in rural communities and small towns in Ghana, align with other sector monitoring initiatives such as the World Bank funded SIS under the auspices of the Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing, it will strengthen the enabling environment for sustaining monitoring in Ghana and build upon the CWSA District Monitoring and Evaluation System (DiMES).
SMARTerWASH will also help the scaling up of service monitoring nationwide using the CWSA approved framework and the FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch) technology developed by Akvo and will generally strengthen private sector investments. It will create an interface between DiMES and FLOW and will build upon the indicators system for monitoring rural and small towns’ water services. To facilitate the above, there will be a close collaboration between the Government of Ghana and the World Bank funded ‘Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Project (SRWSP) in implementing the SMARTerWASH.
In Ghana, mobile phones are everywhere, from the big cities to the remotest areas, there are phones everywhere. Almost everyone in Ghana has a mobile phone varying from the most sophisticated to the simplest brand. Through the AKVO FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch) technology and the Skyfox SMS Marketing and Mobile Money Transfer platform (Text Messaging), the project will enhance monitoring and data collection at the regional and district levels through the use of android phones and also provide easy access to spare parts and transactions between spare parts suppliers and communities.
Ultimately, functionality of water systems and services levels will improve tremendously as beneficiaries through a simple text message can report on broken down facilities, seek technical assistance and procure and pay for spare parts through mobile money transfer using their mobile phones right from their homes.To do this effectively, the required training of stakeholders across the country is important.Between the 26th and 30th of May, 2014 therefore, the CWSA and its project partners organized the National Training of Trainers’ Workshop at Capital View Hotel in Koforidua where a cross section of Sector Stakeholders were trained on the use of the android phones for monitoring and data collection.
CWSA Regional representatives made up of all the Information Technology Specialists were equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills to roll out the regional level training in their respective regions. The training was attended by representatives of all the project partners. Effectively, the Samsung Galaxy Fame has become a monitoring tool for rural water and sanitation services in Ghana.