There are 50,000 dysfunctional water supply infrastructures across Africa representing a failed investment of US$215-360 million

Current Situation

According to the World Health Organization in 2012 748 million people still did not have access to improved drinking water, 325 million (or 43% lived) live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover it is estimated that 840,000 people die each year from a water related diseases

The majority of people in the developing world gain access to groundwater either by means of bucket and rope, or by using a handpump. However, although easy to operate and repair, the bucket and windlass arrangement has serious disadvantages: it does not allow the well to have a sealable cover slab to prevent ingress of polluted water or other contaminants, and the bucket and rope themselves are continually polluted by mud and dirty hands. Therefore, if the water to be raised from a well or borehole is for people to drink, it is preferable to install a handpump.

But much of Africa’s water supply infrastructure is failing for a simple and avoidable reason: lack of maintenance.

In Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and a number of other countries across the continent, significant numbers of boreholes, wells and handpumps in rural villages are falling into disrepair, often only a few years after construction. Recent surveys in the Menaca region of Mali found that 80 per cent of wells were dysfunctional. In surveys in northern Ghana, 58 per cent of waterpoints were shown as needing repair. These figures are not unusual. The water and sanitation foundation FairWater estimates that there are 50,000 dysfunctional water supply infrastructures across Africa. That represents a failed investment of anything from US$215-360 million, and impacts on livelihoods and health.

Our Strategy

H2ONow wants to improve the access to drinking water in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa by leveraging new technologies, specifically mobile technology.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been the fastest growing region over the last five years in terms of both unique subscribers and connections, with the unique subscriber base growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% per annum over the period. By mid-2014, there were 329 million unique subscribers, equivalent to a penetration rate of 38%. Consumers, governments and businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly adopting mobile not only as basic communication tool but also to access information and a growing range of new applications and services.

How will it work?

H2ONow enabled pumps are connected to the 2G network and upload daily information about the usage of the pump and the quality of the water. This information is then compiled in a database and processed to analyze the performance of each individual pump and to identify potential issues in the network. H2ONow then generates customized recommendations to the end-users on which source of water she or he should choose the next day. These recommendations are received daily on their mobile phone and are based on the most up to date status and predictions for the day. This service provided by H2ONow reduces the uncertainty for the user on the working order or that demand for a specific pump and increases the chance for a successful trip to the water point, which in some areas can be up to 4 hours.

Increasing the effectiveness of water collection trips guarantees more water is available for households, therefore increasing hygiene, and less time is wasted therefore also increasing local productivity.



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Jose is a designer, a strategist and a co-founder of H2O Now. He holds an MSc in Architecture and the Built Environment and an MBA at IESE Business School
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Felix Klöckner

Felix holds a degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and has over 5 years experience in innovation and entrepreneurship


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Manu holds a degree in Electronics and Automation Engineering from the Universidad Europea de Madrid and is currently pursuing a Master from UE Business School.

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