In 2017 The Millennium Challenge Corporation issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Annual Program Statement (APS) to request partnership applications related to several technical areas. MCC received a concept note from a the University of Colorado Boulder’s Mortenson Center in Global Engineering & Resilience in response to the high frequency monitoring (HFM) data technical area with a focus on Sierra Leone, and has since undertaken a collaborative process to determine the nature of its engagement on a potential partnership. As a result of this, MCC and the University of Colorado has recently signed a partnership agreement. The following is an overview of this effort.
The Sierra Leone Threshold Program is implementing the Water Sector Reform Project which includes an infrastructure component as part of the District Metering Area (DMA) and Kiosk Demonstration Activity. MCC has a strong interest in maximizing its learning from the DMA Activity. MCC intends to use the APS to work with a consortium of the University of Colorado (CU) and SweetSense Inc to use and collect high frequency monitoring (HFM) data using emerging and cost-effective technologies to understand a range of indicators related to the service levels of these kiosks and how they improve access to water in the project DMAs. M&E may also be interested in monitoring these indicators after the Threshold Program ends. Some examples of the indicators of interest include:
- Water levels in the tanks
- Time required to fill each tank
- Times of supply availability from the network
- Night time versus daytime availability of water
- Times of highest and lowest demand from customers
- Effects of seasonality on water availability
MCC aims to work with CU to install remote sensors on the storage tanks at the kiosks that will be built by the project in the DMAs and operated under new management models. Data from the sensors can be made available to a range of stakeholders through an accompanying web-based dashboard that will enable consumers of the data to understand trends in water availability, demand and consumption at the kiosks. Data collected through this partnership will not only contribute to the independent evaluation, improve reporting on the Indicator Tracking Table (ITT), but also may be used by MCCU and Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) to improve implementation of the kiosk pilot. In addition, the DMA Activity was designed with the expectation that practices piloted that prove to be effective in the DMAs would be replicated by GVWC across Freetown. GVWC is already starting to plan for replication of the kiosks and these HFM data may help to inform potential future scale up of the DMA kiosk models.
By focusing on the DMA kiosk tanks, this monitoring initiative will have a targeted monitoring scope, which MCC and MCCU believe is feasible given the Threshold timeline, priorities and resources available. This initiative will be co-funded and co-managed by MCC M&E along with
the Office of Strategic Partnerships. The University of Colorado will also cost share in the agreed upon effort in line with the requirements of the NOFO. In the selection and management of this initiative, MCC understands the importance of collaborating with the CU, MCCU and other relevant stakeholders to mitigate any risks that may arise during implementation and explore opportunities for sustainability after the Threshold Program.
Using technology such as remote sensing meters or mobile phones to monitor outcomes related to water and electricity projects at a high frequency is still a relatively novel approach within MCC. M&E often relies on periodic surveys and administrative data that are difficult and costly to collect. The successful piloting of this initiative will present a model for other MCC water projects of how M&E can capitalize on the use of these and similar technology tools to collect more reliable data more frequently. The APS also provides significant flexibility in terms of the potential to collaboratively shape how the technology available can suit MCC’s monitoring needs. This partnership will validate the APS as another tool that should be considered when looking for solutions to conduct monitoring activities in other data challenged environments where MCC invests.
This initiative may also offer learning for MCC's Waster, Sanitation and Irrigation (WSI) practice group. For example, the dashboard that will be used for sharing data with stakeholders could be built in to MCC’s water projects and customized to present specific types of data in real time based on the project context and budget. This could offer different stakeholders (including MCAs, and implementing entities) data which they can use to improve project implementation.