In the face of the most severe drought the region has experienced in 70 years, over 16 million people in the Horn of Africa are unable to access sufficient water. Habiba Kanchora Wario knows full well what that feels like.
Every day, the Kenyan mother of three would wake up at 6 a.m. and travel long distances to reach the nearest water source. This journey was grueling and perilous, as women were often targeted by violent attacks from roaming herdsmen.
Back home, her three children would eagerly await her return, their hunger exacerbated by the scarcity of food and water. Nearly one million children throughout the country suffer from malnutrition, mirroring the plight of Habiba’s own children. With what little resources she had, Habiba would cook, then fall asleep, only to wake up the next morning and embark on the arduous journey once more.
Habiba’s life took a turn for the better last April when a solar-powered system called Smart Tap was installed near her home in Yaqbarsadi, Isiolo County, Kenya. The water pump amazed her with its uniqueness.
For individuals like Habiba, Smart Tap has accomplished more than providing clean water. It’s also ignited hope.
The Smart Top Solar Vending Machine
Smart Tap is a user-friendly kiosk that resembles a water vending machine—with a single tap of an electronic token, water flows freely.
The system uses energy from solar panels to dispense water. The water is sourced from the ground and stored in a 10,000-liter tank treated with chlorine. The front-facing component of the system, known as the “Water Hub,” is an electronic kiosk equipped with a designated area for tapping pre-filled tokens.
When someone taps their token, water rushes out from one of the three spouts connected to the tank. This efficient and easy-to-use design ensures each member of the community is given a token.
Tokens are refilled by local resident Mzee Omar Hagga, known as the Water Hub Treasurer. Action Against Hunger (an anti-poverty nonprofit) sends him bulk water credits via SMS messaging, allowing him to top up the tokens for each individual.
The villagers of Yaqbarsadi now have convenient access to water through the implementation of Smart Tap systems. This innovative technology requires less physical effort compared to traditional hand pumps. It also has fewer breakdowns and provides safer water sources.
Monitoring of the system is done using an online dashboard. Workers from Action Against Hunger and the County Water Department track the amount of water withdrawn from the tank. They then visualize the data on a graph to display daily, monthly, and yearly usage. The online dashboard is useful for comparing changes in community water needs across different months or seasons.
Isiolo and West Pokot counties have implemented Smart Tap systems, benefiting over 4,000 people in total. The local water committee oversees the entire operation.
Smart Tap solar-powered vending machines are solving thirst, accelerating the clean energy transition, and protecting women. It used to be common for women in Yaqbarsadi to suffer physical violence while gathering water. However, there have been no reports of such abuse since the introduction of Smart Tap.
Smart Tap is the international development solution of the future.
Image Source: Action Against Hunger US, https://shorturl.at/bEV19