Providing water to the urban poor
There is a staggering 827 million people considered urban poor around the world, who do not have a household water connection. The situation is set to get worse, as cities in Africa are predicted to grow by 5% every year. Although utility pipes run right through many waterless communities, it would take three months of average income to get a connection, meaning people rely on public taps and water resellers, time-consuming solutions that cost up to 15 times as much as running water. At the same time water companies struggle too, with revenue lost to leaks, customer delinquency and an old-fashioned process for metering, billing and collections.
France-based CityTaps has created a pilot program to bring running water to people without. Internet-connected pre-paid water meters mean that families with an irregular income can make micropayments through their mobile phone to secure water supply, while utility companies are incentivized to bring water to poorer communities, knowing their consumption and payments will be continuously monitored. More revenue for the utility company in turn encourages more investment in infrastructure.