An innovative initiative - Smart phone technology to monitor the water quality in tribal villages

New Delhi, July 28, 2015: With an effort towards improving people's quality of life by developing locally sustainable drinking water resources and sanitation facilities, FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) has further taken a leap towards improved information collection & dissemination through online mobile based research technology called Akvo FLOW to monitor the functionality of rural water points. Akvo FLow is a multi-language tool for collecting, evaluating and displaying any quantity of geographically referenced data - using Android smartphones and an online dashboard. It helps map situations on the ground and monitor changes over time. It dramatically improves the accuracy of data and makes it easier to gather and share by using the best available tool for this purpose – the smartphone. This smart technology is very handy to continuously assess the quality, quantity and accessibility of water in remote villages.

FXBIS has initiated a three year intensive, integrated intervention early this year with support from Arghyam Foundation to promote improved water & sanitation (WATSAN) in the selected gram panchayat’s of Namkum block. This project is being implemented in 34 villages of five gram panchayat’s namely Hurua, Hardag, Hahaap, Dungri and Sidrol in Namkum Block since March 2015 .The project is reaching out to 32838 people living in 6511 households. About 81% of the population in these villages belongs to schedule tribe community.

FXBIS has partnered with Akvo FLOW Foundation to apply the online water point mapping technology in the safe WATSAN promotion programme in Jharkhand. This technology is instrumental in updating the implementing teams about the progress of their inputs to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of drinking water in the intervention villages. The ultimate aim is to equip local women from the villages to use technology to monitor water quality and advocate for improvement.

Orientation training on conducting mobile based baseline survey and water point mapping was organized for the Jalsahiyas and Self Help Group (SHG) women of the project villages in Namkum block from 12th to 16th May 2015. A five day classroom training session helped them in administering the survey questionnaire using smart phones, and uploading finished survey forms to the online research dashboard. The class room training session was followed by practical demonstration and exposure visit to the villages. The main objective of the training was to build the capacity of community members (women) to adopt the most advanced mobile based online research tool and utilize the tool to do water point mapping and help the community understand the status of village water quality, quantity and accessibility ultimately improving overall water safety in the villages.

Following the training, a detailed baseline with minimum proportionate sample of approximately 14% of total household i.e. 923 and 100% drinking water sources mapping in each gram panchayat has been conducted. The online drinking water point maps created through Android phones will be used to understand the existing WATSAN situation like available water sources, quality & quantity of water, functionality, physical status and proximity of open defecation sites to the drinking water points etc. At a later stage, the survey findings including online maps will be disseminated by organising a workshop with key government stakeholders & VWSCs representatives from each village.

With the ultimate goal to demonstrate a pilot model with the innovation which will help policy makers and officials in effective planning, implementing and monitoring of government schemes with increased community participation; FXBIS with support from Arghyam Foundation and Akvo FlOW Foundation strives towards promoting drinking water security for the tribal population in the Jharkhand. With the dream to build an integrated development model for replication in many other parts of India, this is just a small beginning towards bringing change.


About Akvo FLOW: Over the last years, Akvo has worked with governments and many partners across the globe to introduce and support the introduction of mobile phone based monitoring. As of today Akvo FLOW is used in 37 countries, and partners have conducted over 1,150,000 surveys to improve decision-making in the fields of water and sanitation, food and agriculture, energy, health, education, forestry, fishery and conservation.

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