Planning for the next wave of water investments in Malawi, Zambia, and Rwanda
In Malawi, 62 percent of the rural population depends on groundwater; however, it is estimated that one in three of the country’s water points does not work at any given time, leaving close to four million people without access to safe drinking water. Malawian social enterprise BASEflow is working to improve the sustainability of groundwater sources for the rural population. BASEflow has been providing support for a two-year mapping project to determine the location and usage of every water point in rural areas, which will inform an update to the country’s Rural Water Supply Investment Plan for the next 10 years.
As part of this work, BASEflow has been using a feature called Population Within on the mWater platform, which leverages our high-resolution population density maps to determine how many people are within a given distance of a water source. This is important for determining whether locations are meeting the Malawi Government standard that requires a single hand pump to serve no more than 250 people within a radius of no more than 500 meters.
“Having accurate, accessible, and usable data helps curb a waste of scarce resources, which is all the more important in this time where governments are cutting back on their financial commitments towards water supply projects,” said Muthi Nhlema, BASEflow’s Team Leader. “Facebook’s high-resolution population density maps are extremely valuable to developing countries such as Malawi for effective planning, targeted investments, and efficient allocation of infrastructure investments.”
Similar to work being done in Malawi, the international nonprofit organization World Vision is leveraging Facebook’s population density maps to plan their next five years of water investments in Zambia, Rwanda, Ghana, and Honduras. For example, using Facebook’s high-resolution maps, World Vision has been able to determine exactly how populations in Rwanda and Zambia are distributed across targeted districts, as well as the proportion of them that are not currently served by existing waterpoints. These population-based insights will play an important role in tracking progress for World Vision’s 2021–2025 Business Plan, which aims to accelerate universal and equitable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services in support of SDG 6 as well as to deepen focus on serving the most vulnerable people. Over the five-year period, World Vision seeks to support government counterparts in delivering clean water to 15 million people, improved sanitation to 14 million people, and improved hygiene to 18 million people.
Supporting national electrification in Rwanda
Over 570 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the region’s total population, lack access to electricity. But Waya Energy (WE), a company founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2019, is tackling the issue. WE is building data models and software that address the UN’s seventh Sustainable Development Goal, which aims to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services by 2030.
For example, WE has been supporting the development of Rwanda’s National Electrification Plan. Rwanda’s government, which has set the target of universal electrification by 2024, has stated that access to electricity is crucial to the country’s economic growth. As part of these efforts, WE used our high-resolution population density maps, also referred to as the High Resolution Settlement Layer (HRSL), to determine the location of residential customers as well as the expected growth in urban and rural areas for 2024.