New Sensor Technology Brings Water Security To Rwanda

Young girl holding a glass of water - Photo Credit - Living Water International

Jacques Cousteau once said “we forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”  Nearly a billion people worldwide lack access to clean, safe water.  Water insecurity is one of the leading contributors to poor health, barriers to education, gender discrimination and poverty.

Living Water International, a faith-based charity in the United States, has worked on water security issues in the developing world since 1990.  They recently launched a new real-time monitoring technology that uses specialized water pump sensors and mobile phone data to accelerate water pump maintenance.  Developed by Portland State University and Sweetsense, the pilot program is being run in Rwanda, where 200 sensors have been installed on rural hand pumps.

“Currently, hand pump check-ins and maintenance is a full-time job,” said Moses Chinyama, Project Coordinator for Living Water Rwanda. “We are excited to be the first to use this new technology, which helps us repair pumps before they break down and lets us share information quickly and easily between community and government maintenance teams.”

The sensors automatically send text messages about any problems with the pumps to trained community maintenance teams, who will then be sent out to the pumps.

“Decades of experience show that community ownership and government involvement are crucial to sustainable water solutions,” said Mike Mantel, president and CEO of Living Water International. “We are eager to see how open communication – made possible with tools like the SweetSense sensors – increases the sustainability of our water projects in Rwanda.”

Here is a video about how the sensors work:

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