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Remote Monitoring During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

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Water Mission
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A significant factor contributing to the global threat of COVID-19, particularly in least developed countries, is inadequate and unreliable access to clean, safe water. Water is essential for handwashing and caring for people who are ill. Without it, prevention and control of the spread of infectious diseases both in the home and in healthcare facilities is virtually impossible.

At Water Mission, we’re continuing our COVID-19 response to provide safe water, hand washing stations, and hygiene training with a focus on preventing the spread of the virus across hundreds of communities, healthcare facilities and refugee camps spanning nine countries.

As of today, we are providing safe water on a daily basis to 1.7 million people in the face of COVID-19.  Much of this wouldn’t be possible without remote monitoring.

In Kenya alone, Water Mission provides on-demand maintenance services for water supplies in dozens of communities, several of which are in remote, hard to reach locations. Some of these locations require a two-day trip driving through remote areas, many under strict lockdown due to active COVID-19 cases.

Our staff face extreme heat, rough roads, spotty phone reception and dry weather potentially affecting everything from communication to the dependability of our vehicles. On one single trip to repair a water system, a Water Mission vehicle dealt with three flat tires. Checking in on safe water equipment can be tedious. Thanks to our supporters, our investment in remote monitoring technologies are impacting lives every day.

Keeping Safe Water Accessible Through Real-Time Data and Insights

Water Mission’s experience in responding to natural disasters and humanitarian crises spans nearly two decades and has enabled us to become a trusted partner across a global network of development and relief agencies. This effort has also resulted in a robust network of water supply infrastructure that is supported by remote and responsive monitoring systems.

These systems safeguard water services for hundreds of communities and healthcare facilities that are at the forefront of preventing and mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus. Our remote monitoring solutions provide real-time updates and oversight, ensuring that each safe water site continues to reliably operate for each community.

One example of such a partnership is a joint program with local authorities and Grundfos’s Poul Due Jensen Foundation, in which Water Mission is actively monitoring water flow and supporting services for more than 35,000 people in rural Kenya and more than 200,000 people in refugee camps and host communities in Tanzania. In addition, we are operating and maintaining water services for more than 550,000 people in refugee settings in Uganda.

Remote monitoring plays a critical role in our operations, helping to address unplanned interruptions in water availability by enabling rapid troubleshooting when minor issues occur. With more than one million people relying on our support to ensure water that is safe for drinking, cooking, and cleaning continues to flow, we’re upholding our commitment in the face of increasing COVID-19 restrictions.

Protecting Uninterrupted Safe Water Access Through Real-Time Information Flows

Although our ability to respond to water system breakdowns during the COVID-19 crisis is hindered, remote monitoring enables access to real-time and historical data on systems we support around the world. This capability, developed in partnership with IBM, maximizes operational efficiencies by providing alerts, remote reporting, and empowering our field staff to address minor issues before they turn into costly unplanned interruptions. This transparent and reliable flow of information also allows us to maintain a unique level of accountability with water users and local authorities.

Water Mission strongly believes that responsive monitoring and information systems lead to more reliable services. The result is an excess of 95% uptime of safe water services in the systems we are supporting. This far exceeds rural waterpoint functionality norms. Remote monitoring technology has positioned us to keep safe water – a critical element in the prevention and containment of the spread of infectious diseases – constantly flowing despite the evolving challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.