The Mkyashi Water Project’s leadership committee met at the beginning of December to discuss improvements to the project’s people, process, and parts. They came up with 3 improvement ideas which they hope will enable them to increase their expansion rate in 2018 so more families in Mkyashi can benefit from improved water access.
The committee wanted to address the issue of users falling behind on their water bills. 3 root causes were identified. During the meeting, committee members discussed solutions for each of the root causes.
The first challenge the committee addressed was how to read the water bills correctly. 3 new families joined the water system in 2017 and 2 new public distribution points were installed. These new connections had newer model water meters than the other connections on the line. The new model included a digit for tenths of a unit used. However, the meter did not come with any instructions so committee members were reading the bill as if it had an extra digit on the end. People who had used 1 unit (1,000 liters) were told they had used 10 units. They refused to pay a bill 10 times higher than they expected! The commitee invited a local water technician to the meeting to review the meter readings. He explained how the new model works, which rebuilt trust that the meters were working and bills were charged correctly.
The second challenge the committee addressed was fatigue on the part of the bill collector and water pumper. Originally, all positions on the project were voluntary. This was okay with the bill collector when everyone paid their bill on time during monthly meetings. When people couldn’t pay at the meeting and requested to pay at a different time, the job began taking more of her time. Additionally, the water pumper did not mind flipping the pump switch every couple of days when just 9 families were using the water system. When the project expanded to nearly 30 families, she started getting tired of turning the pump on so often.
To solve the problem, everyone with a home connection agreed to pay a service fee of 1,000 TZS per month in addition to their bill. The total service fee will be 15,000 TZS (US $7.00) per month until the project expands again. This will be split between the bill collector and water pumper as a small “Thank you” from users for their service.
The final issue to solve was a lack of ownership by the committee chairman. In fact, the chairman of the water committee was farther behind on his water bill than everyone else on the project. The group voted in a new chairman who has shown a better spirit of ownership and collaboration. They are looking forward to adding more new families in 2018 and continuing to work towards the financial and organizational sustainability of the project.