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Raising the Water Pressure (Maji Matone)

This innovative, three-year programme encourages citizens to put pressure on local government to address problems with rural water supplies. Mobile phone technology is harnessed to create a simple way for citizens to get involved. The media is then used to amplify their voices and increase local government accountability for water services, with a particular focus on repairing broken down waterpoints and ensuring that new funding for water supply is fairly used.
 
Concrete improvements in service delivery are not delivered by the programme itself, but by local government, in response to pressure from citizens engaging with the programme. In this way, the programme addresses the underlying political causes of poor sustainability and unfairly targeted investment, rather than the symptoms. And by demonstrating to citizens that they can achieve real improvements in service delivery through their own actions, the programme contributes to the development of a culture of citizens’ agency, bringing cross-sectoral benefits.
 
  
Background
 
Access to clean and safe water in rural areas of Tanzania has been declining in recent years. At the same time, rural Tanzanians cite water supply as their top priority for government action and give the water sector lower satisfaction ratings than other social service sectors. National government has recently taken steps to address this situation, increasing development funding for rural water supply more than 400% since 2006.
 
However, sustainability and equity challenges threaten to prevent this funding from reaching its full potential. Waterpoint Mapping surveys commissioned by WaterAid Tanzania found that only 54% of rural waterpoints are functioning. And by combining data from these same surveys with local government budget information, TAWASANET discovered that the majority of the new funding is being targeted at communities that already have relatively good access to water supply.
 
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has recognised the potential of the Waterpoint Mapping (WPM) tool that was used in WaterAid’s surveys as the basis of an improved monitoring system for the sector. As a result, a National Rural Water Supply Infrastructure Monitoring System (NRWSIMS) is now being developed, based on WPM. This will involve conducting initial data surveys nationwide and developing a database and website to make the data widely accessible. Both the initial data and software systems are expected to be ready by mid-2010.
 
WPM also offers valuable potential as a tool for promoting citizens’ agency and local government accountability. The programme described in this paper aims to combine WPM with mobile technology and media partnerships to capitalise on this potential
 
The Programme: Raising the Water Pressure
 
The programme aims to promote citizens’ agency and increase local government accountability, and thus to deliver tangible improvements in the equity and sustainability of rural water supply.
 
    Overall goal:
                Increased access to clean and safe water in rural areas of Tanzania.

    
Objectives:
    1. An increase in the functionality rate of public improved waterpoints in rural areas.
    2. More equitable distribution within districts of public investments in rural water supply.
    3. The power of citizens’ agency to deliver tangible improvements in rural water supply is demonstrated and recognised.
 
Programme Components
 
The programme is constructed around a basic framework for promoting action by citizens: popularising information, an SMS-based citizens’ feedback mechanism, and media partnerships for accountability. These components will be given a single brand identity for easy recognition. 
  • Popularising information – The programme will make information on rural water supply as easy as possible for citizens to access and understand. This includes data from WPM surveys on the state of water supply services as well as relevant information on national policies and finance for the sector.
     
  • SMS-based feedback mechanism - Simple mechanisms will be developed for citizens to use their mobile phones to give feedback on the state of rural water supply. Information provided will be forwarded to the relevant government authorities – thus enabling them to respond quickly – as well as to the media.
     
  • Media partnerships – The programme will use partnerships with national and local media to provide space for public debate on rural water supply and put pressure on elected representatives and local government officials to respond. Information sent in by citizens via the SMS mechanism will underpin much of the media content.
     
Timeline
 
The three year implementation schedule is divided into two main phases – an initial pilot to develop and test key programme components in three districts for which data is already available in the first year, followed by two years of nationwide implementation.
 
Implementing Agencies
 
Programme implementation will be led by Daraja, alongside local and national media partners. Further partnerships are being developed to broaden and deepen the programme for greater impact.