Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications
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TOPIC: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications

Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 30 Apr 2012 11:24 #1479

  • jkeichholz
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I've received the following info today via the Mobile-Active Google group which may be of interest to some of you. I am talking about monitoring and what Ned Breslin suggested the other day in terms of using new tools for a crowdsourced approach (e.g. FLOW):

WASH SMS is an open-source communication and tracking mechanism that uses messages from mobile phones to develop crowd-sourced data in the form of maps and reports for use by communities, utilities, government agencies, and NGOs. The team behind WASH SMS is interested in connecting with others implementing similar projects which facilitate information exchange and coordination to support improvements in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in the short and long term.

The WASH SMS system provides an immediate, transparent and multi-directional way for utilities and customers to manage existing problems and also better plan for the future. It allows for the development of data direct from the community as an alternative information source about the status of water at the local level. It helps develop and empower citizen voices to advocate for what they need, and assists local governments and utilities to meet community needs and plan for the future.

WASH SMS builds on successful open-source systems like Ushahidi and Huduma, and extends these to enable both reporting and information viewing by residents focus on information for urban water and sanitation service delivery and long-term monitoring, and open up multi-channel communication among residents, utilities, local government, and the informal water sector. The features of the platform (currently in pilot development in two Indonesian cities) include:

  • Multi-directional communication
  • Community-driven list of issues
  • Support for unstructured report submissions
  • Automated responses to obtain more information for complete reports
  • Automated data mapping
  • Regional broadcasting function
  • Multiple report formats to meet multiple stakeholder needs
  • Data collection and tracking for use in short-term issue resolution, and long-term planning
  • An issue tracking website for system and participation monitoring to identify any system problems and track the number of participants by location and time


WASH SMS is being developed by Nexleaf Analytics (nexleaf.org) and Pacific Institute (pacinst.org), through a pilot project in Indonesia. We are interested in sharing the above enhancements with other implementers and developers in order to learn from each other during the development phase. If you are interested, or for further information about this project, please contact Misha Hutchings, Project Manager, at xxxx, or Meena Palaniappan, Project Director, at xxxxx (e-mail addresses removed)


src: groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/mobileactive-discuss/hVxL-Br7VGk
Juergen Eichholz
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water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org

Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 30 Apr 2012 19:40 #1483

  • tmsinnovation
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Indeed the right kind of thinking IMO, as cellphones are truely everywhere.
Nexleaf looks like an interesting organisation, they do not yet have anything on their website about the WASH SMS project. I would be interested in some of the more technical details, any idea where I could find info about the database structure, info to be sent via sms, costs of the sms for the user and so on?
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 30 Apr 2012 20:57 #1485

  • jkeichholz
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(ah, damn Kunena session bug ###!)

I think since it's based on Ushahidi and the Huduma tuning, the db will look like a typical Ushahidi setup ==> wiki.ushahidi.com/display/WIKI/Database+Schema+Diagram

SMS costs imo also depend on the availability of a local shortcode (1234 instead of 0123-1234567) which could reduce sms costs for stakeholders. I think most people will only make use of any such reporting tool once they see a direct benefit in it. It is against this background I am glad they are piloting it in Indonesia and not in Kenya. ;-D
Juergen Eichholz
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 05 May 2012 13:12 #1502

  • jkeichholz
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Check this out: www.pacinst.org/reports/mwash/index.htm

mWASH: Mobile Phone Applications for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector

Billions of the world’s poor still lack access to basic water and sanitation services, yet many of them can count mobile phones among their possessions. Water and sanitation practitioners have begun to tap the potential of these phones as tools to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services. A new report from the Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics assesses how these “mWASH” solutions can amass and disseminate information quickly and thoroughly – directly to or from the underserved populations most in need of service from water providers.

“The urban and rural poor often have no way to advocate for their basic needs for water and sanitation because their problems are invisible to higher levels of delivery, planning, and policymaking,” said Meena Palaniappan, director of the Pacific Institute International Water and Communities Initiative. “Information is powerful, yet scarce, when it does not have to be. A mobile phone WASH solution can fill information gaps by transforming the way data is generated, communicated, and shared – giving people a real and direct voice.”

Ms. Palaniappan released the report in a presentation at the International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Symposium at the University of California, Berkeley on May 4, 2012. The new study, mWASH: Mobile Phone Applications for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector, analyzes how mobile technology applications are already being tapped in many areas, such as health, agriculture, and disaster relief, as well as WASH.

“These mobile solutions demonstrate that gathering and analyzing data from remote regions and making the information available in a transparent way can help identify where investments are most urgently needed, improve long-term project monitoring, and contribute to better water resources planning,” said Misha Hutchings, research associate at the Pacific Institute and lead author of the report.

“We aimed to capture a snapshot of existing mobile phone platforms to assist in developing an effective solution to improve transparency and enhance communication for the global water, sanitation, and hygiene sector,” said co-author Nithya Ramanathan of Nexleaf Analytics. “Mobile phones are powerful mechanisms to serve the needs of the poorest, most vulnerable populations, because they represent a ubiquitous, relatively low-cost, and easy-to-use communication option for rapid information transfer and service facilitation.”

The ten case studies in the mWASH report call out lessons critical for developing robust mWASH applications. Most mobile phone solutions have great potential, fueled by desires to bring rapid and effective change, but their success will ultimately depend on program management planning for financial and technical sustainability, and measuring system effectiveness in the short and long-term.

The researchers conducted a global survey and identified more than forty mobile phone projects worldwide, selecting ten organizations for further study, including five in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector: FLOW, Human Sensor Web, Maji Matone, NextDrop, and Water Quality Reporter. Interviews with each organization revealed key decision points on technical, social, and program design, as well as principles for the success of mobile phone applications relevant to WASH. They concluded that for mWASH solutions to provide the underserved the information they need and a voice with water providers and government agencies, the developers must understand that:

- socio-cultural context is critical and user participation is driven by ease of use;
- mobile phone solutions can provide high-quality data, and users must have access to that data;
- responsiveness of government authority is necessary to ensure users’ long-term interest;
-securing a future for the system requires a plan for long-term sustainability right at the outset.

It is increasingly recognized that efforts to improve water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in the long term depend on addressing the underlying issue of inadequate governance in the WASH sector, which is exacerbated by poor information on water resources and the needs of the poor. Technology that innovates the ways in which data is generated can help in overcoming this challenge, allowing for direct and real-time data generation and collection from larger numbers of people, often at little cost.

Mobile phone technology is making it easier for people to access information – and it is spurring demand for information access and transparency. Technology is also enabling communities to coalesce around issues of concern and making communication between stakeholders more immediate. Governments can increase service provision to underserved and vulnerable communities, alert residents to service changes, and aggregate data on informal water services, unserviced areas, and aquifer levels, as well as assess and prepare for risks associated with climate variability and change. Using SMS, email, or the web, citizens and residents can remotely report conditions such as poor water quality and sewage backflow, register lack of infrastructure to aid in network expansion, and view information on the status of service provision and problem resolution.

The Pacific Institute, in collaboration with Nexleaf Analytics, is using this mWASH research in its project funded by USAID Development Grants Program (DGP) to build the open-source WASH SMS System, a highly accessible communication and monitoring system that relies on mobile phones and email to develop crowd-sourced map data to improve water and sanitation services for the urban poor. The system is being developed through a pilot project with Indonesian partner PATTIRO and serves two major metropolitan areas in Indonesia that are on the verge of water crises among their urban poor. The project includes extensive collaboration between Indonesian citizens, public and private water service providers, and government agencies.

This analysis was made possible through the generous support of USAID and the Cisco Foundation.
Juergen Eichholz
watsan eng.
water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 08 May 2012 03:02 #1509

  • ijgossejeroen
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Dear fellow forum members,

Following an invitation from Elisabeth von Münch to post this presentation which I shared with her and fellow team members from the solid waste and sanitation departament at GiZ, I am attaching a presentation I made in 2008 after a visit to the interior of Suriname in South America.

Walking around in the villages along the rivers in the jungle whilst on an evaluation misison for the ISSUE-1 program I was struck by stark contrast between the sanitation situation and the access of mobile telephone.

It let to this presentation called ´digicel´.

One of the main questions that arose during my visit is, what can the sanitation (and solid waste) sector learn from the quick acceptability and integretation into society that the mobile phone has achieved over the last 15 odd years. Why is that cultures all over the world have embraced this device / technology with such eagerness and willingness to pay (highly) for its use, and at the same time achieving this same eagerness and willingness to pay for sanitation has proven to be much more difficult. Is that we as humans (all over the world) care more about talking than we do about our own health (and that of our children´s)?
I´ll be interested to learn your reflections on this issue.
Kind regards Jeroen
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 08 May 2012 09:27 #1511

  • jkeichholz
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Welcome to the forum, Jeroen, and thx for sharing your presentation with us!

ijgossejeroen wrote:
Why is that cultures all over the world have embraced this device / technology with such eagerness and willingness to pay (highly) for its use, and at the same time achieving this same eagerness and willingness to pay for sanitation has proven to be much more difficult. Is that we as humans (all over the world) care more about talking than we do about our own health (and that of our children´s)?


Yes.

It's a very good (rhetoric) question and I also believe that the mobile communication sector isn't that much different - which btw also depends on a working base station grid and handsets that need to be recharged with energy and credit.

I think the difference between decent sanitation and mobile phones is the portability/mobility as both already provide freedom and individuality. And mobile communication also means business opportunities for users which sanitation does not (yet).

This, coupled with aggressive marketing strategies and availability of solutions (~ subsidized or cheap phones, cheaper base stations - GSM has been around for many years) imo is why the mobile communication sector took off while the wash sector is only slowly progressing forward.

It's also interesting to note how much money the communication consortia invested in service licences / frequency allocations. Could a similar exclusiveness also be guaranteed to wash providers who would be e.g. be bidding on service licenses for municipalities or countries?
Juergen Eichholz
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water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org

Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 08 May 2012 15:36 #1513

  • Kiku
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More on phone-based WASH approaches. GIZ Uganda plans on enticing up to 30.000 urban dwellers in post-conflict Northern Uganda to engage in an SMS-based quiz on hygiene promotion. The Dutch agency, Text-to-Change is the local market leader for SMS-based behavioural campaigns, and they will be commissioned to undertake the assignment. We intend to incorporate HIV-based questions to hit the proverbial two birds with one stone. The idea is to run radio ads to market the campaign, get people to subscribe via (free to send and receive) SMS to a particular code, and stand a chance to win phone credit if they participate in the quiz. SMS campaigns are popular among telecom companies - they largely rip off gullible customers via sending costly SMS with a chance to win big. A lottery of-sorts. We are borrowing (and making it better) a leaf - for a good cause. The beauty with the approach is that, via a call center (database), respondents that exhibit low hygiene awareness levels can be easily identified for follow-up. Lessons from the campaign will be shared with relevant players in the water sector.
Fredrick Tumusiime
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WSP-Africa/World Bank

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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 08 May 2012 16:48 #1514

  • ennoschroeder
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Dear all,

just a quick reply to your posting Jürgen:

Apart from the aggresive marketing which is done for mobile phones and the case that there is a lack of functional and affordable mobile toilet(s systems), a core issue in slum areas for instance is that the fluctuation is super high and ownership very low (often, people are tenants which frequently have to move). So a perfect thing would be something like the MoSan toilet. People could purchase the unit and just carry it around when they move.

But there is another very important thing which I would like to add here: Unlike mobile phones, toilets are not a status symbol. And this is exactly what has to be changed by e.g. designing proper (mobile) toilets, marketing campaigns for those toilets, using SMS services, using media (e.g. soap operas), including it in school curricula, in a nutshell: mainstream it...

Thanks for the discussion and best regards,
Enno
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Last Edit: 08 May 2012 16:53 by ennoschroeder.

Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 08 May 2012 19:43 #1515

  • tmsinnovation
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Hi Kiku

Please drop any links or info about any other sms based data collection, competitions or use in the WASH sector in Uganda and its neighbours that you have encountered. Really excellent to gain insight and learn how things have been done or not done, so as to look to making them work even better in the future.

Rgds
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 09 May 2012 17:45 #1527

  • Doreen
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Dear All,

This discussion very much reminds me of a presentation I heard during the 35th WEDC International conference held at Loughborough University in the UK. The presentation was held by Ben Taylor, the Tanzania coordinator of an NGO called Daraja.

Ben Taylor spoke of the sustainability challenges that Tanzania faces in the distribution of its water points and the inequality in the different areas. There is a project known as Maji Matone that caters to the repair of broken down water points via the use of mobile phones.

Therefore if a rural water point breaks down, a rural citizen sends an sms to 15440. The sms is delivered to Daraja and is then shared to media partners who highlight the issue on live radio. In addition, they also update the water point database.

The actions taken are as follows: The radio station contacts the citizens, confirms the sms and broadcasts, asking the local government to implement a solution to the challenges by immediately repairing the water point. The local government mostly responds to the media pressure and repairs the water points.

Challenges of this method he pointed out are that of the approx. 960 sms they received in the first 6 months, 196 were followed up and there were only 15 known successes (Please note that this presentation was held on 06.07.2011). In addition overcoming apathy is a challenge and user friendly technology is paramount as many people were unable to send the sms with the format that was required.

He also mentioned that it was a challenge for them to maintain good relationships with the ministry of water and the local government in Tanzania because the media tended to push the government to make the changes. So issues of accountability, public awareness were prevalent. Nevertheless I see this as something very promising.

Best regards

Doreen
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Last Edit: 10 May 2012 05:59 by Doreen.
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 11 May 2012 15:00 #1536

  • Kiku
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Hi Trevor,
The planned WASH project would be the first of its kind in the region. Most past and on-going Text-to-Change projects are in the field on health communication such as HIV/AIDS awareness, child health, etc. Please visit their site for more information.
www.texttochange.org/project-list

Regards,
Fredrick
Fredrick Tumusiime
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Re: Knowledge sharing on mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene applications 11 May 2012 16:29 #1537

  • Marijn Zandee
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Thanks for sharing this, some very interesting ideas in there, even if we may not be able to transfer the concept 1:1 to our project areas. The "quiz concept" is definitely interesting as a social change tool.

Marijn
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