In the global south, safe and reliable water access is a pressing need. Studies show that one-third of the world’s population does not have clean drinking water.
This problem is usually prominent in rural and peri-urban locations that are not connected to the municipal or main centralized water supply.
In Ghana, to fill in this gap, private sectors, and non-governmental providers are increasingly getting involved. Some private water service providers have turned to innovations like water ATMs. these are automated standpipes that provide affordable water services.
The water ATMs are designed to operate 24 hours as they are powered by solar energy. They are low-cost, self-contained, automated water vending machines that store clean water and are most often connected to a water purifying plant that uses groundwater. Customers buy water from the ATMs using a water card topped up with credit via mobile money.
The ATMs are operated by Safe Water Network, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to developing and implementing small financially viable water initiatives.
Water ATMs were installed incrementally and used the community’s existing physical, institutional, and financial infrastructure. This was done to reduce the cost and the chance of resistance or rejection of the innovation. It relies on what was already in place, such as mobile phones, Safe Water Network’s standpipes, and community actors like water station operators and mobile money agents.