Be Accountable, Save a Drop of Water
For the past three years from 2019 to 2021, Kinara for Youth Evolution’s “Water for Life” project has been at the forefront of improving water services delivery in Morogoro Municipality by bridging the communication gap between Citizens and the Morogoro Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (MORUWASA). We have focused on innovating a citizen-friendly water leak reporting system to reduce water loss. Citizens contact our youth volunteers, known as Community Change Agents (CCAs), who use the mWater application to report leaks, and other water issues, to MORUWASA for resolution. Together, we have fixed over 1,600 leaks , and seen average days of water flow increase from 2.7 to 3.6 days per week . This powerful example of bringing people together motivated us to focus even more on every citizen’s role to address water service delivery challenges.
Video 1: Star TV news feature with MORUWASA on World Water Week 2021 activities in Morogoro Municipality. Kinara segment filmed on 26 August, 2021.
A Citizen-Centered Campaign
This water loss had been contributed by lack of a proper citizen and MORUWASA binding communication system to stay turned to each other. Other reported challenges include lack of water meter reading education, proper water usage education, and water infrastructures protection. To collectively address these challenges, “Water for Life” project engages citizens, MORUWASA and Local Government Authorities (LGA) at different times through meetings, trainings, and community outreach events.
However, most people in life claim rights but do not accept the same amount of responsibility. In collaboration with the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Consumer Consultative Council (EWURA-CCC), we are reaching water service customers using an approach based on both rights and responsibilities. We target every customer to be aware with rights to claim for, such as rights to get water services and rights to be heard for any water issue they face. Moreover, because rights and responsibilities stand as checks and balances in accountability, citizens are encouraged to act on water service challenges such as leak reporting before they claim their rights to water service delivery from MORUWASA.
In August 2021, our “Be Accountable, Save a Drop of Water” Campaign was launched during World Water Week, aimed to encourage more citizens on reporting water challenges particularly pipe leaks to MORUWASA through Kinara CCAs so that citizens can continue getting water services as well as increasing the MORUWASA income generated from water bills. This campaign engaged media such as television, radio, and social media to reach more people. We also visited water sources including Mindu Dam, reached students by conducting school sessions, and educated citizens house to house in all 16 project wards on some of their most challenging issues as discussed in the sections below.
Figures 1-5: Common customer questions answered by MORUWASA during water source visits. Text originally posted on Kinara’s Twitter account on 27 August, 2021.
Protecting Infrastructure to Reduce Non-Revenue Water
In the rapidly expanding Morogoro Municipality, ageing of water infrastructure and damage from road construction are among the factors contributing to water pipes leakages. These leakages reduce water availability to households, and reduces the quality of water supply through contaminated water entering the system. Lack of piped water affects women’s and girls’ rights through their lost time which could be used to engage in socio-economic activities rather than going to different areas to search for water for their families. For MORUWASA, they lose collectable revenue from monthly water bills. It is an undebatable fact that if leaks are mitigated, revenue collection by MORUWASA increases and it facilitates the improvement of water service delivery and its expansion to other new areas with high demand of water service.
According to MORUWASA Engineer Mr. Bertam Minde during World Water Week, about 34 to 39 percent of the produced water is Non-Revenue Water (NRW) including the water lost before reaching customers. This data is a call to action that ensuring more resilient water services delivery requires everyone to take responsibility. We are encouraging citizens to “Be Accountable” and report water leaks and other related challenges immediately to MORUWASA through our CCAs so they can be fixed.
“Nothing is water supply, if water infrastructure is not well protected.”
Water Conservation in Households
In the beginning when we were passing around the community and visiting households in the project’s 16 wards, we noted that some citizens were washing their babies directly under their water taps, brushing teeth at their water taps, and even washing dishes. During stakeholders’ engagement meetings, citizens provided reasons for doing that because of lack of education to conserve their water systems. Furthermore, they asked to be educated on proper water use which will help them in reducing water bills and protecting the environment.
Therefore, we have been educating the community on water management in their households in cooperation with MORUWASA and EWURA-CCC. Kinara CCAs have been going house to house to provide proper water use education and reminding customers about important water-saving habits such as:
Checking leaks around their household and reporting them to MORUWASA through CCAs so that can be fixed. This can be done by closing all taps and then checking if their water meter flow indicator moves.
Turning off all taps during water rationing outages to prevent loss when it starts flowing again.
Not running the shower while applying soap and not running the tap while brushing teeth.
Not washing dishes directly from the tap but rather collecting water in a bucket first.
Not wasting water when not paying, such as at school, office, or hotel.
These all have been part of the education provided to make sure that water scarcity as a resource is reduced.
Reading Meters, Building Relationships
During project implementation, many water customers were facing challenges of not being aware to read their water flow meter, and how to calculate the expected amount of water bill to pay to MORUWASA. Many customers complained that their water bills are coming very high while themselves they are using little water.
To address this issue, we asked MORUWASA to train our CCAs on meter reading so they can then provide meter reading education to the community. This education is opening the eyes of the water customers to be aware on the units they use per month and to pay their bills without having to worry with bills that are brought from the water department. It also helps for knowing and resolving earlier if there is a metering problem due to a household leak, meter over-reading, or a stuck meter. This action reduces complaints to MORUWASA from customers and increases revenue (by reducing “commercial” NRW) because more bills are paid on time.
From these commitments one Street Chairperson was quoted saying that “I thank Kinara to come up with this project as for sure in the beginning I did not know how to read meters which led to complaints to MORUWASA. I thank also the CCAs to pass to my street and educating my citizens on how to read meters. I am sure the complaints will now be reduced.” So once the involvement of citizens becomes high, the results are seen in the good relationship between water customers and MORUWASA.
During the four campaign months from August to November 2021, Kinara’s “Water for Life” project reached 1,709 citizens with water services education. Successful outcomes include:
Community members directly reported 96 water pipe leaks to our CCAs in 16 wards.
Metering and billing complaints decreased from 33 (39% of all complaints) in February to May 2021 to only 13 (13% of all complaints) during the campaign.
MORUWASA’s customer relations department posted 15 social media  posts other than service outages, compared to only six such posts in all of the prior months of 2021. Topics ranged from water conservation tips, meter reading diagrams, bill payment reminders, and reporting water theft.
Figures 6-7: Customer relations informational posters in Swahili language posted by MORUWASA on their Facebook and Instagram pages on 19 October, 2021 (Water Meter Education) and 20 November, 2021 (Consider Proper Use of Water). Republished here with permission from MORUWASA.
This campaign has been straightforward to change the mindset and behaviour of the people on water resources conservation. It is obvious that water as a natural resource needs everyone’s efforts to make it resilient for our today’s use and future use.
Total leaks fixed starting in May 2019 through November 2021.
Comparing self-reported household survey data from initial ten wards in April 2019 to current 16 wards in July 2021.