Why this Innovation is Important
Safe Water Network aims to provide reliable and accessible water for consumers in rural areas. Automating water services through water ATMs and prepaid “smart” meters for household connections improves access by increasing water availability and empowering consumers to collect water when it is most convenient for them. Through digital finance integration, these automated services remove the need for a station operator or attendant to be available for people to pay and use safe water. Water ATMs and Smart meters allow for 24/7 availability of water while collecting digital data, which helps us understand consumer behavior and trends.
How this Contributes to the Long-term Success of our Model
Increasing access and availability of water through automated services allow for longer hours of operations at Safe Water Stations, which increases water sales and revenue without higher local operating costs (operator salaries, vendor commissions, etc). In addition, using automating water services improves revenue collections and eliminating account arrears, as automated systems are less likely to waste treated water or undercharge consumers with different-sized containers (as can be the case with operator-reliant sales). As digital systems are not dependent on local currency coinage, digital services allow stations to raise prices by smaller amounts; stations can increase prices in alignment with inflation without the risk of losing consumers from a sudden price increase. Household connections have historically only had a 50-70% collection rate, and many households have ended up in arrears; using automated pre-paid smart meters helps households pay off arrears accrued from historical use and prepay for water, so that the station doesn’t lose money for services provided.
Progress to Date
Under a project funded by GSMA, Safe Water Network Ghana is beginning to scale water ATMs to all station standpipes, as well as prepaid “smart” meters for all household connections. Meanwhile, Safe Water Network India is in the process of implementing water ATMs at all stations; as of Q1:18, 82% of stations in India have water ATMs.
Safe Water Network Ghana will be working on implementing and scaling water ATMs and prepaid “smart” meters under the GSMA grant until Q3:19. In the next five years, Ghana stations expect to be fitted with exclusively digital water services. Additionally, Safe Water Network India plans to have all stations equipped with water ATMs by the end of 2018.
For More Information
To learn more about how you can help us develop automated services contact: Sandy Hwang