In Madagascar, like many African countries, the majority of safe drinking water available to rural populations comes from hand pumps installed on boreholes or hand dug wells. Unfortunately, maintaining hand pumps has proven very difficult. The traditional NGO and government promoted model of community management has proven unable to ensure functioning water points for lack of access to spare parts, lack of finance, absent technical skills, lack of funds or (financial) mismanagement.
It is estimated that between 40-60% of all hand pumps in Africa are broken at any one time. Observations by BushProof indicate that in parts of Madagascar this percentage is significantly higher, with most pumps out of action for periods of many years before repair or construction of new water points.
Since 2004, BushProof has drilled over 1,000 boreholes and sold many more hand pumps, mostly on behalf of NGOs across Madagascar. Several years after construction, many of these pumps fail, never to be repaired. In the past we have unsuccessfully experimented with a maintenance subscription model, offering repair services to local communities (Communes) against a quarterly fee. However, a BushProof spin-off Jiro-Ve has been successful in renting out solar lamps on a prepaid basis. Similarly, the mobile communications industry has seen exponential growth across low-income consumers, also in rural areas, through the sale of prepaid airtime. It is our intention to apply the successes of the prepaid economy to the problem of hand pump maintenance. If successful, this will solve one of the biggest problems in rural water supply, and contribute to the enhanced health of tens of thousands of people in Madagascar alone.
The purpose of this assignment is to undertake research, design and development on a business model / technology combination that makes it possible to sell water from hand pumps on a pay-as-you-go basis. A number of considerations are given by BushProof. These reflect their current thinking, but are open to change if the team uncovers new information during their research or proposes alternative solutions. These considerations are divided within two themes, on one side the focus will be on the business model and transaction considerations, on the other hand there are pump technical considerations.