Water is scarce, costly, and contaminated in Kibera, Nairobi—one of Africa’s largest urban slums. On good days, the women and children of Kibera spend just under an hour finding clean water in their community. On bad days, the search takes all day and the price can increase tenfold. Water contamination is so common that people ask jokingly whether it is water or cholera they are buying at water kiosks.
Many slums like Kibera lack access to clean drinking water, but they don’t lack access to mobile phones. This is the insight behind M-Maji (“mobile-water” in Swahili), a “mobile-for-development” project that aims to use widely accessible mobile phones to empower under-served communities with better information about water availability, price, and quality.
*Update April 2, 2012: Last week we launched a small pilot in 5 Kibera villages. Details about the launch are available at WezaTele’s blog (http://wezatele.com/blog/?p=110) and in a news video by Kibera News Network (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aomsCeTxXzM&list=UUpVAWZnOfKm5DqH-fFcIOiA&index=1&feature=plcp).