Looking at the Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access

Saturday 15 Aug 2015 | Blog | Digital Utilities | Global | Mobile access and use | Resource | Sanitation |

Looking at the Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access image

As reported in the latest Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) publication, 2.4 Billion people still lack access to improved sanitation, including 1 Billion people practicing open defecation. Although more than 2.1 Billion people have gained access to improved facilities since 1990, the Millennium Development Goal on “halving the proportion of people without access to improved sanitation by 2015” has not been met; as a result of population growth, there are also more people without access to adequate sanitation today than in 2000.

At the same time, looking at the period between 2002 and 2012, the gap between access to mobile and access to infrastructure has kept growing to the extent that for every person gaining access to improved sanitation, ~2.5 persons became mobile subscribers. In a time where mobile networks and mobile phone ownership are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, there is an important opportunity for sanitation providers (governments, NGOs and entrepreneurs) to leverage mobile technologies and services; such as mobile money, mobile internet and machine to machine connectivity, to bridge the current infrastructure divide. It’s a fact that more people have access to mobile phones than toilets today, but harnessed in the right way, these mobile phones and technologies will have a positive impact on sanitation access, as is currently becoming the case in the off-grid energy sector.

This new report on “The Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access” aims to present the context of mobile adoption in markets where sanitation access is lagging behind, and offer insights on how a new generation of sanitation organisations have begun to leverage mobile tools to improve their operations efficiency, financial sustainability and customer relationships. The GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities programme sees an important opportunity for mobile ecosystems to help solve some of the sanitation access challenges in emerging markets, including data collection; monitoring; operation and maintenance; and financing. Unlike the energy sector where mobile tools are increasingly integrated and decentralised systems, mobile in the sanitation sector is still for now at an early stage of development.

With the transition to the Sustainable Development Goals setting a dedicated target of achieving universal sanitation access by 2030, the time is ripe to better share best practices around technology integration and increase partnerships with mobile ecosystem players, to streamline access to mobile services, and rigorously monitor and evaluate the impact of such mobile innovation in sanitation service delivery. Grant support for developing and piloting such early stage mobile innovation is deeply needed. As mentioned in a previous blog post, GSMA M4D Utilities are providing financial support to Loowatt in Madagascar and Sanergy in Kenya, to pilot mobile solutions, respectively, to improve the coordination of waste collection logistics and customer service, and develop and test the use of sensors to determine the fill levels of toilets.

Download the full report: The Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access 

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