Dr Robert Hope, Mr Patrick Thomson, Ms Johanna Koehler, Mr Alex Fischer (School of Geography and the Environment)
Dr David Clifton, Dr Achut Manandhar, Ms Heloise Greeff, Ms Farah Colchester (Department of Engineering Science),
844 million people lack access to basic drinking water. The majority live in Africa and Asia, often depending on handpumps, which lift groundwater. When a pump breaks in a school, clinic or community, it usually takes weeks or months to repair. The health, education and economic costs for women and girls are enormous but avoidable. Smart handpumps are an innovative technological and institutional response. A novel transmitter installed in the handle automatically sends data to alert local maintenance providers. This has reduced the time to repair handpumps from a month or more to a day. People now make mobile payments to the maintenance providers, which has expanded the service to over 60,000 people in Kenya. The research has led to a change in the Kenyan Water Act, the incubation of two social enterprises, and a legally-registered trust fund blending user, private and public finance. With UNICEF we are testing the approach in schools in Bangladesh. Machine learning is modelling the vibration data to predict the depth of the groundwater and to estimate when the pump might break. Smart handpumps may mean failures will be a thing of the past; the will help to deliver the SDG goal of universal water for all.