SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Why it matters
SDG 6 aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Despite recent improvements, billions of people still lack access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Based on current global rates of progress, achieving universal coverage by 2030 will require a sixfold increase for access to drinking water, a fivefold increase for sanitation and an eightfold increase for hygiene.
The industry’s contribution
Mobile technology improves many aspects of water delivery and sanitation provisioning. Effective metering and revenue collection are central to a healthy, functioning water utility, but many utilities struggle to collect their tariff revenues. IoT solutions such as smart water meters can help break the vicious cycle of low revenue collection and poor service. Beyond the economic argument, ensuring public health and environmental standards are also strong drivers for IoT adoption in the water sector.
IoT solutions can also improve access to safe sanitation services. Many sanitation value chains are fragmented, with waste collected from households and then centralised for safe treatment and disposal. Here, IoT can be combined with platform models for coordinating and tracking waste for safe disposal. As with other use cases, the benefits of preventing harmful discharges of waste extend beyond the balance sheet of a single organisation, as there is a multitude of public health reasons to financially support deployments.
Growth of digital payments (in particular, mobile money services) can support IoT growth. For instance, mobile-enabled PAYG water solutions allow low-income customers to pay for what they consume in smaller amounts, rather than a lump sum at the end of a billing cycle (especially for a service that previously may not have provided a steady, timely and safe supply of water).
No Data Found
Maximising mobile’s impact by 2030
Maximising mobile’s impact on SDG 6 by 2030 will rely on IoT solutions being scaled up. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that smart utilities IoT connections will total 3.5 billion globally by 2030, up from 1.7 billion in 2021. In cases where government entities are also major service providers, for example in centralised energy and water, there is an opportunity for public procurements to act as an accelerator of IoT adoption through large-scale deployments. Governments can also support IoT adoption by formulating national standards and specifications for IoT devices, such as smart meters.
Supporting waterless flush sanitation through mobile technology - Loowatt video
In 2015, Loowatt was awarded a grant from the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities programme to develop a suite of mobile services to track its waste collection processes, collect payments with mobile money and communicate better with its customers. Loowatt, in partnership with Airtel Madagascar, uses mobile technology to support the service and maintenance of waterless household toilets. Customers use mobile money to pay for collection services and SMS to schedule collections and maintenance. Loowatt personnel use the mobile app and web platform to manage operations and track waste from households to the treatment facility.
Working towards SDG 6 through water ATMs in Bangladesh – Drinkwell
In October 2017, the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund awarded a grant to Drinkwell, in partnership with Dhaka Water Supply & Sewerage Authority (DWASA) and mobile operator Robi Axiata, to operate water ATMs in Dhaka fitted with remote monitoring technology to ensure a safe and reliable water supply.
Digitising billing and meter reading for water utilities – Wonderkid
In May 2015, the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund awarded a grant to Wonderkid to help it develop a suite of mobile tools for four water utilities in Kenya. The grant supported a complaint management and tracking system that allows customers to report maintenance and upkeep issues. It also offered a mobile app for meter readers that allows meters to be photographed, helping to address disputes and verify meter readers’ activities in real time. A self-meter reading and payment system allows users to send their own meter reading via SMS and receive a preliminary bill with instructions for paying via mobile money using Safaricom’s M-Pesa.