SMS Technology Bringing Clean Water to Uganda’s Remote Areas


Text to Change, in collaboration with Akvo, recently received a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to use mobile technology to bring clean water to remote communities in Uganda.

According to the firms, Akvo’s Flow will be used to map water sources while Text to Change’s Vusion platform will be used to create a feedback network between water users, hand pump mechanics and the District Water Office to make sure the water sources are functional and that their is constant provision of clean water to the communities.

The project uses low-cost, ready existent mobile technology to improve the management of access to water for underserved communities in the country and also helps create dialogue to engage people on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues in their communities. The communities use mobile phones, Twitter, Facebook and traditional media such as radio and television spots, posters and flyers to up engagement.

According to UNICEF (2013), 768 million people do not have access to safe, clean drinking water, and 2.5 billion people live without proper sanitation. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities.

In March, the teams visited Kwegegwa, Kamwenge and Bundibudgyo districts in Western Uganda to discuss the project with the Water Officers and Chief Administrative Officers. They also talked to chairpersons of the Hand Pump Mechanic Associations and Water Artisan Associations.
According to Neema Iyer, Programme Coordinator Uganda, “We will return to these districts in a few weeks to train them on the use of smart phones and Akvo’s FLOW tool, and to sensitize the communities to use SMS to report on functionality as well as obtain more information on WASH through SMS quizzes, skits, radio performances and print media.”

Founded in 2007 by  Bas Hoefman and Hajo van Beijma Text to Change uses mobile technology as a driving force for effective communication and positive change. The organization develops customized mobile phone-based solutions to enable its partners such as USAID and UNICEF to interact with people in emerging countries for free, get receivers opinions and collect valuable data.