Smart meters help provide water to the urban poor
A shower is an untold luxury for Ana, a mother of five who lives in Niamey, Niger. Ana is one of 40% of the city’s population, and a staggering 827 million of the urban poor around the world, who do not have a household water connection. The situation is set to get worse, as cities in Africa are predicted to grow by 5% every year.
Ana and her husband Hamadou provide for their family through entrepreneurial work with an irregular income – they mend clothes, bake pastries and repair cars for people in the community. Although a utility pipe runs right outside their home, it would take three months of their combined income to get a connection.
Instead, the family relies on public taps and water resellers, time-consuming solutions that cost up to 15 times as much as running water. Ana and her daughters lose two hours a day to procure water, and the quality is questionable as supplies can easily get contaminated during transportation.
At the same time water companies struggle too, with revenue lost to leaks, customer delinquency and an old-fashioned process for metering, billing and collections.
France-based CityTaps has created a pilot programme to bring running water to people like Ana and Hamadou. Internet-connected pre-paid water meters mean that families with an irregular income can make micropayments through their mobile phone to secure water supply, while utility companies are incentivised to bring water to poorer communities, knowing their consumption and payments will be continuously monitored. More revenue for the utility company in turn encourages more investment in infrastructure.
For now, CityTaps is still in a trial stage, but the project is certainly getting noticed, winning a Microsoft Civic Innovation Scholarship and the Cité de L’Objet Connecté Angers Award. Find out more at www.citytaps.org
Image courtesy of CityTaps
Last updated: 22nd of August, 2016