Innovative water solution to end perennial shortage

By Harrison Kivisu
Wednesday, March 4th, 2020
Anwar Ahmed, ICT chief officer, Mombasa County. Photo/PD/Bonface Msangi
In summary
    • By June 2019, an estimated 90 per cent of the global population, equivalent to 6.8 billion people, used at least a reliable water source that’s accessible within 30 minutes.
    • Kalama got the idea to develop the innovation from Solutions Africa, a mentorship platform.
    • It took Kalama two months to develop the solution that helps curb water wastage.
    • Mombasa county, which grapples with water shortage due to illegal water connections and leakages, plans to test and adopt the system.

Nickson Kalama considers it a privilege to have undertaken a course in Information Communication Technology (ICT).

He is even more excited about the numerous opportunities to better lives that being an ICT professional offers him.

Among the solutions the 27-year-old ICT diploma student at Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) has created is a system that facilitates collection of payments from water vendors.

The Hydro Pay Metre system is aimed  at relieving water suppliers of the stress they undergo in collecting revenues from vendors and end users. 

The system is packed with electronic sensors, which are connected to first generation metres in which the water flows through.

The sensors generate data that is then sent to the system. It shows time and the volume of water that goes through the pipes.

“The sensors are fixed into the first generation metres then when water taps are opened, it sends alerts through a software dubbed Sigforx cloud system, that automatically shows how much  water is used, its costs and any detected leaks,” he says.

It took him two months to develop the system, which he believes can help county governments and water companies save money and conserve water. Kalama adds that the system can also detect locations with illegal connections.

Using this system, metre reading can be done from the office without visiting the sites, and, therefore, effective handling of water preservation and regulation.

“It captures the amount of water that passes through the new generation metres and sends an alert to the receiver.

It is easier and convenient to preserve water and generate more revenue,” says Kalama.

Statistics by World Health Organisation indicate that in 2017, only 71 per cent of the global population (5.3 billion people) used safely managed drinking water service within their premises, that is clean and available when needed.

He is concerned that lack of finances to help him advance his studies may hinder him from fully exploiting the potential of his innovation.

Despite joining university in 2016, he is yet to complete his studies due to lack of tuition fees.

If applied, the solution could play a big role in addressing the water challenges in local communities. 

“Most rural schools and local communities depend on non-profit organisations’ initiatives to access clean water usually from sunk  wells.

However, there are many schools and communities that are not supported by non-profit agencies or local governments,” he says.

Curbing water shortage

Born and brought up in Kikambala Village, Kilifi county, Kalama’s dream of becoming a journalist was ended by his parents. 

After completing his secondary education at Ribe Boys High School in 2013, they urged him to pursue a different course and he opted to study ICT.

He has dedicated his skills in developing technological solutions before he got an opportunity with Mombasa county government to showcase his project at the 2019 edition of the Mombasa International Agricultural show.

His innovation caught the attention of the Mombasa county government Information Communication Technology (ICT) chief officer, Anwar Ahmed. 

Mombasa county has for long grappled with water shortage, leaking pipes, illegal water connections and loss of revenue through unscrupulous individuals.

Ahmed says about 25 modern innovations from different universities in Mombasa are in the process of being adopted by the county government, as it seeks to improve on public service delivery.

 “We started going to universities in search for the best ideas and we want to make sure we empower them.

As a strategy to help innovators from technical institutions in Mombasa, we have decided to adopt their ideas, so that we can ensure we help them realise their dreams,” he says.

He adds that the system will be tested and once implemented, would go a long way in curbing water theft and ensure water billing is recorded for monitoring.

If the solution is adopted it could curb the perennial water shortage experienced in Mombasa county due to illegal connections.