120 liters a day

Willemijn Edens has been working as a Communications Officer at TTC in their Amsterdam office since 2013. She is studying Communication and Multimedia Design and is starting a minor entrepreneurship  in September. She wrote a guestblog for iHeed crowd, a platform for digital designers responding to global health education challenges.

For many people there is not a day that goes by without using water. We take a shower in the morning, make coffee during breakfast, clean our clothes in the washing machine and wash our hands after using the bathroom. Can you imagine a day without a nice clean shower? I sure can’t… Here in the Netherlands an average household uses 120 liters per person per day. What we don’t realize every time we open the tap is that water isn’t as normal in developing countries. The lack of clean water usage leads to a lot of hygiene related health problems.

A life changer
In Uganda more than 10 million people own a mobile phone. For Ugandans mobile phones seem to be more than a device used to communicate, rather they are a way of life. One single text message can make a big difference. Why not use this knowledge to improve the hygiene and access to sanitation facilities?

One of the companies who combines social change with the upcoming mobile market in Uganda is TTC. In 2008 TTC set up their first SMS campaign, and in the last five years TTC has become a leading organization in the field of innovative mobile solutions for development in Africa and South America.

They proved mobile technology can play a vital role in improving lives, even in the most isolated areas.

Reach 30.000 people
In collaboration with the respective Ministry of Water and Environment and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) TTC signed a contract in November 2012 to set up several awareness campaigns on water, sanitation and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

The main focus of this program is to ensure that people in Uganda have access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities. We reach people by for example using incentive-based SMS:

Why always use clean water containers?
(A) To look good
(B) To avoid water contamination
(C) That is not important.
To Reply Type: RUW7 (space) (Answer Letter) & send to 8181

In this campaign mobile is combined with other media like radio and call centers. Also incentives are used to increase participation. Airtime incentives, T-shirts and stickers are used to persuade people to participate. So far 2.000 people have received airtime.

In total 17.580 people already have been reached, who all received 12 messages in this interactive, incentive-based SMS campaign on important water, sanitation and HIV/AIDS issues.

This highlights how SMS in combination with media and incentives can modify behavior and improve knowledge in water sanitation and other topics. With media and technology always improving, the next natural step would be, to add to this with new content, for example, animations on water treatment and others.

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