New smartphone app may help keep water pumps workingNovember 01, 2010
The new app -- called Flow -- was recently launched by the nonprofit, humanitarian aid group Water For People. At the touch of a button, community members, entrepreneurs, industry professionals and volunteers can report on the status of their water pump projects, showing that the water is flowing or indicating that the system is not working properly, according to a news release from Water For People.
“It’s not enough to install a water point and celebrate the number of people with access to clean water on that particular day. We need to be accountable for the projects we put in place and ensure that they are operating for at least 10 years,” said Ned Breslin, the organization's CEO. “With FLOW, Water For People will be better able to evaluate its work, share the results and work toward more effective and sustainable programming.”
A significant percentage -- perhaps as much as 45 percent -- of water pumps installed by the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development and various nonprofit groups break within a decade, Breslin said in an article on CNN.com.
The groups that have installed these pumps often don't know they are broken -- or choose to focus instead on the telling the positive stories about how many pumps they've installed. But the consequences can be dire, the cnn.com article reported, with broken pumps leading to people getting ill and even dying from drinking contaminated water.
According to the International Water and Sanitation Centre in the Netherlands, of the 600,000 to 800,000 hand pumps installed in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 years, approximately one third failed prematurely, resulting in a wasted investment of more than $1 billion. FLOW provides the technology needed to transparently and accurately assess the status of programs to avoid future unsuccessful commitments.
The application is available on the Water For People Web site.
The application uses Android® cell phone technology and Google Earth, FLOW to demonstrate real data as soon as it’s reported, according to the Water For People news release. This wide-spectrum view into the organization’s work will allow Water For People to be flexible and quickly respond when problems arise.