Increasing access to drinking water in Mozambique with Enabel
Enabel, formerly BTC, is the Belgian development agency. Implementing the development cooperation programmes of the Belgian government, they support development projects around the globe to eradicate poverty.
Enabel is currently running a food and nutrition security programme in the Gaza Province of Mozambique, aiming for increased access to clean drinking water for the rural population. Akvo Flow is used to collect data on the water points in the Gaza Province in an effort to update the local database and to lead by example in the field of water point monitoring.
Above: Women collect water in the Gaza Province of Mozambique, 2016. Credits: Enabel.
In 2013, Enabel initiated a food and nutrition security programme, with the aim of providing 45,000 people with access to clean drinking water by 2018. However, when Enabel started implementing the programme, it turned out that the data on water point functionality in the local database was very unreliable. Data collection was done with pen and paper, leading to transcription errors in the process. Half of the recorded water pumps were located in the Indian Ocean or in the wrong district. Since this data was integral to its success, Enabel had to seriously consider closing the project. There was an immediate need for a digitisation of the data collection process.
It was important that the new data collection system was flexible enough to replicate the survey standards that were used previously in the Gaza Province, thereby allowing the new data to be read in the old database. To ensure sustainability, it was also crucial to align the data collection with similar efforts in other geographic regions of Mozambique. That way, all collected data would be in the same format and able to be compiled and compared. Akvo provided that flexibility, and Enabel equipped local technicians with the Akvo Flow app.
Enabel could rely on Akvo’s expertise in collecting water point data, setting up the data collection system and database, and training local technicians to capture and manage the data. Akvo Flow is user friendly, allowing the technicians to collect accurate, timely, geo-tagged information without the need for any further training. Akvo helped to visualise the collected data on interactive maps and charts. These visualisations can be accessed by anyone interested in the water point functionality in the Gaza Province, enabling better decision making.
Currently, the whole Gaza Province has complete and accurate data and Enabel’s innovative approach is greatly appreciated by the constituents. This database shows that the situation in Gaza is very critical: only 65% of the handpumps are still operational and only 50% of them produce drinkable water. This was the trigger that has completely revolutionised the mentality of the region. It has given credibility to more innovative solutions for drinkable water, such as the use of solar energy and desalination, rather than simply installing more manual pumps producing saline water.
In other regions of Mozambique, SNV Mozambique is implementing similar data collection initiatives with the use of Akvo Flow. While at first there was some scepticism about the use of mobile data collection tools, the visible success of the project has changed the mentality towards modern data collection solutions. As a result, the DNAAS (National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation) is planning to modernise their data collection methods. Enabel, SNV and the national government of Mozambique are exploring the feasibility of using Akvo Flow as a national data collection system.