Updated Jan 15, 2021

Zimbabwe's Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Information System employing Real Time Monitoring Approaches and Tools using Mobile Tech

Raquel Wexler

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Zimbabwe's Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Information System employing Real Time Monitoring Approaches using Mobile Technology has accelerated WASH service delivery in rural areas and has reached more than 1.8 million children in 12-15 months of implementation.

Integrated real time feedback by community informants on the status of changes in WASH infrastructure is allowing for the quicker repair and improvement in services in hard to reach rural areas. The feedback, using RapidPro is reflected in real time in the national Rural WASH Information Management System online portal which is available for all stakeholders to see. Dashboards are available on...
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Integrated real time feedback by community informants on the status of changes in WASH infrastructure is allowing for the quicker repair and improvement in services in hard to reach rural areas. The feedback, using RapidPro is reflected in real time in the national Rural WASH Information Management System online portal which is available for all stakeholders to see. Dashboards are available on current status of WASH infastructure from District to National levels, where decision makers can easily monitor breakdowns and timely response.
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MLC Vanguard
  

Stage 6: Sustained Scale

Note that the RWIMS+ Real Time Monitoring component is a government of Zimbabwe owned initiative supported by UNICEF Zimbabwe. UNICEF Zimbabwe Focal Point is Aidan Cronin , Chief of WASH acronin@unicef.org. The UNICEF Zimbabwe CO agreed that Raquel Wexler, who supported this work from UNICEF HQ, would facilitate the submission of the application. Note a case study based derived from a Q4 2019 research exercise will be available further detailing this work will be available in Q1 2020. The Zimbabwe experience has been considered quite successful within UNICEF, and related guidance will be developed by UNICEF to support other countries interested in employing real time monitoring solutions in the WASH sector based on Zimbabwe and other country experience. Integrating RapidPro with the nationally owned Rural WASH Information Management System to enable community-based real time monitoring has enabled communities to report changes in infrastructure functionality through SMS directly to government’s extension workers. This addresses the challenge of a long lag time between changes happening in community WASH infrastructure and these being reflected in the national WASH database. With RapidPro, the extension worker no longer needs to wait until s/he physically visits a rural community to record changes - which in the past lead to delays in making corrective improvements in water delivery in rural communities. Changes in water and sanitation infrastructure functionality are now immediately transmitted by mobile phones by community/village informants to government, flagging immediate need for repair. EARLY RESULTS FROM INSIZA DISTRICT In July 2018, a message was sent to community WASH informants in Insiza district - covering 53,000 people, 8,000 of whom are under age 5 - for updates on the status of WASH infrastructure including functionality of water points, number of households benefitting from the infrastructure, among other information. The response rate was over 70%. In addition to solicited updates, a total of 427 unsolicited messages by community WASH committees were received at the District level on faulty WASH infrastructure. These are messages that were sent by community members to request WASH infrastructure repair - without being prompted. The 68 water points that were reported as non-functional were attended by a village pump mechanic. This resulted in 46% of the water points being restored to full functionality, 10% becoming partially functional, 12% were confirmed by the Village Pump Mechanic as ‘collapsed’ and 32% remained non-functional within the two-week period. Following a review of the first pilot and results achieved, government concluded that real-time monitoring using RapidPro can provide a viable solution to improve response of government service providers to community reports of breakdowns in rural WASH services and plans to scale the service to all districts. In one village, stakeholders noted that with real time community feedback and response using mobile technology, repairs to water points were taking place in 3 days versus 3 months and thus providing life-sustaining access to water more rapidly for hundreds of households. OVER 5 MILLION CHILDREN REACHED, INCLUDING 1.8 MILLION THROUGH REAL TIME MONITORING APPROACHES USING RAPIDPRO As of December 2019 5,385,665 children have been reached with real-time data-supported water and sanitation service delivery through the RWIMS - 1.8 million of which were reached via community-level use of mobile open-source technology, RapidPro.

Focus Areas:

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Good Governance, Data/Analytics and 2 MoreSEE ALL

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Good Governance, Data/Analytics, Health and TechnologySEE LESS

Implemented In:

Zimbabwe

ZimbabweSEE LESS

1
Country Implemented In

Problem

PROGRAMME CONTEXT UNICEF Zimbabwe’s Water and Sanitation (WASH) programme aims to improve equitable use of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene practices. The government has invested in a Rural WASH Information Management System (RWIMS), a near-real-time monitoring system to improve data reliability, equity analysis and use of technological innovations in emergency preparedness and response. Several limitations however have been identified with RWIMS: (i) lack of consistent communication between key informants at the community level and enumerators (data conveyors to national Geodatabase) (ii) absence of feedback to communities resulting in reporter lethargy as no action was being taken by responsible authorities on water and sanitation issues raised by community members.

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Solution

To address these shortcomings, a pilot was successfully undertaken to integrate the RWIMS with RapidPro (called RWIMS SNR). The real-time monitoring initiative in Zimbabwe aims to (1) scale up the RWIMS SNR solution to seven provinces; (2) support the development of a national sustainability strategy that provides a more systematic approach to near real-time monitoring in the WASH sector; and (3) strengthen data analysis and utilization by government to ensure that plans and strategies are evidence-based. Integrating RapidPro with RWIMS has enabled communities to report changes in infrastructure functionality through SMS directly to government’s extension workers. This addresses the challenge of a long lag time between changes happening in community WASH infrastructure and these being reflected in the national WASH database. With RapidPro, the extension worker no longer needs to wait until s/he physically visits a rural community to record changes - which in the past lead to delays in making corrective improvements in water delivery in rural communities. Changes in water and sanitation infrastructure functionality are now immediately transmitted by mobile phones by community/village informants to government, flagging immediate need for repair.

Target Beneficiaries

EARLY RESULTS FROM INSIZA DISTRICT In July 2018, a message was sent to community WASH informants in Insiza district - covering 53,000 people, 8,000 of whom are under age 5 - for updates on the status of WASH infrastructure including functionality of water points, number of households benefitting from the infrastructure, among other information. The response rate was over 70%. In addition to solicited updates, a total of 427 unsolicited messages by community WASH committees were received at the District level on faulty WASH infrastructure. These are messages that were sent by community members to request WASH infrastructure repair - without being prompted. The 68 water points that were reported as non-functional were attended by a village pump mechanic. This resulted in 46% of the water points being restored to full functionality, 10% becoming partially functional, 12% were confirmed by the Village Pump Mechanic as ‘collapsed’ and 32% remained non-functional within the two-week period. Following a review of the first pilot and results achieved, government concluded that real-time monitoring using RapidPro can provide a viable solution to improve response of government service providers to community reports of breakdowns in rural WASH services and plans to scale the service to all districts. In one village, stakeholders noted that with real time community feedback and response using mobile technology, repairs to water points were taking place in 3 days versus 3 months and thus providing life-sustaining access to water more rapidly for hundreds of households. OVER 5 MILLION CHILDREN REACHED, INCLUDING 1.8 MILLION THROUGH REAL TIME MONITORING APPROACHES USING RAPIDPRO As of December 2019 5,385,665 children have been reached with real-time data-supported water and sanitation service delivery through the RWIMS - 1.8 million of which were reached via community-level use of mobile open-source technology, RapidPro. Adults have also benefited from the improved WASH services.

Competitive Advantage

The community based real time information reported at the community level to district level for response, is directly linked to national databases and transparently available for all to view. There has in a significant improvement in response times to WASH infrastructure breakdowns over the previous paper based systems. In a resource challenged context such as Zimbabwe, this initiative has been considered quite a success.

Planned Goals and Milestones

Based on Zimbabwe experience, UNICEF is developing guidance on the use of RTM approaches in the WASH sector in Q1 2020. The government intends to roll out the community based RTM component to all provinces. Finally, a case study based on Zimbabwe experience will be available externally in Q1 2020.

Milestone

Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In
Zimbabwe