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Journal of Hydroinformatics In Press, Uncorrected Proof © IWA Publishing 2012  |  doi:10.2166/hydro.2012.183

GSM-enabled remote monitoring of rural handpumps: a proof-of-concept study

Patrick Thomson, Rob Hope and Tim Foster

School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY, United Kingdom. E-mail: patrick.thomson@ouce.ox.ac.uk

First received 23 November 2011; accepted in revised form 12 February 2012. Available online 17 May 2012


The continued expansion of mobile network coverage in rural Africa provides an opportunity for simple and low-cost hydroinformatic innovations to measure and transmit data on handpump use for policy and management improvements. We design, build and test a Waterpoint Data Transmitter to determine its robustness, functionality and scalability. Results demonstrate that this novel application using simple micro-processor, accelerometer and GSM components has significant potential in recording graduated time-step information flows of lever pumps which can be modelled into a reasonable water volume use approximation. Given the systemic informational deficit for rural waterpoints in Africa, where one in three handpumps is likely to be non-functioning, this innovation has the potential to provide universal, low-cost and immediate data to guide timely maintenance responses and planning decisions, as well as drive greater accountability and transparency in donor and government behaviour.

Keywords: development; GSM; pump; sustainability; technology; water

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