At Project Maji, we emphasize asset management for long-term and sustainable service delivery by acknowledging the criticality of efficient and cost-effective management of physical assets. Asset Management is viewed as a combination of various practices, including management, financial, economic, engineering, technological and others with the ultimate goal of providing the required level of service at the lowest life-cycle cost.
Leveraging Purpose-Built Solutions for Systematic Asset Tracking
To this end, we rely on purpose-built solutions such as the mWater Asset Management feature to map and track water system assets across Sub-Saharan Africa. This enables Project Maji to have a systematic and digitized view of key water system assets, including their age, location, and condition. With this information readily available, the organization can prioritize investments and repairs, plan for major replacements, and allocate proper financing for long-term sustainability.
Breaking the Cycle: Overcoming Challenges in Rural Water Asset Management
Managing rural water assets proactively is a significant challenge, often leading to insufficient preventive maintenance, high levels of non-functionality, and poor service levels. This is primarily due to a lack of willingness and capacity to implement good asset management practices. It becomes a vicious cycle where a "fix on failure" approach perpetuates the lack of proper asset management, and vice versa.
To me, Asset Management is all about keeping water flowing uninterruptedly and ensuring uptime! After all, if you don’t service your car – it’ll also break down at some point!
Wieke De Vries, Director of Development & Partnerships
To break this cycle, Project Maji believes in stakeholder sensitization for asset management both internally and externally. This means shifting the mindset of donors towards long-term thinking and ensuring sufficient budget allocation for operation and maintenance (O&M) and asset management methods and tools when setting up programs. Recognizing that asset management incurs costs, proper funding is essential. Alternatively, shifting mindsets by linking the adoption of asset management practices with financial viability and the development of business cases.
Furthermore, building internal capacity among field staff is crucial for successfully transitioning from a "fix on failure" approach to a strategic asset management approach. It is crucial that the field staff interacting daily and up close with our water systems fully embrace and see the value in taking a long-term approach to the management of these assets. By emphasizing efficient and cost-effective asset management, leveraging purpose-built solutions, breaking destructive cycles, sensitizing stakeholders, and building internal capacity, Project Maji strives to ensure the long-term sustainability of water service delivery.
Project Maji Asset Management Workflow
Water Asset Console
We have utilized mWater’s Asset Management capability to create a customized ‘Water Asset Console’ that helps us map the inventory per access point. This means a database of all ‘assets’ from pumps, panels, to meters, pipes – the condition of these assets, expected lifespan of items and the financial consequences and planning.
Water Systems Dashboard Next, the asset inventory mapped feeds into the “Water Systems Dashboard”. This dashboard serves as a comprehensive platform offering detailed insights into various facets of the planned solutions. These include the specific solution types, the length of pipes employed (measured in meters), the geographical elevation, the local population served and precise GPS coordinates.
This dashboard's utility has been significant in facilitating the evolution of our System designs. By factoring in critical parameters such as pipe length, elevation, local water demand and distance, we can accurately ascertain the requisite solar power capacity and pump specifications.
Repair and Maintenance Framework Finally, once a site is commissioned, our Repair and Maintenance framework comes into effect. Under this framework, our field teams are required to report on three kinds of field visits to ensure all sites are fully functional and properly maintained. The main visits are the Annual Servicing Visits and Maintenance & Repair Visit. Our response time to address a technical challenge is 5 and diligent reporting is essential. Lastly, we report on Courtesy Visit beyond regular maintenance schedule, for example a visit with a Donor. We track our progress through the O&M Console set up in mWater that helps us map and monitor water point functionality as well as a full record of repair issues reported and resolved. Our field staff is now confidently logging and tracking issues. This has led to improved comprehension of our performance, the establishment of longitudinal data, and a deeper grasp of both challenges and functionality, ultimately fostering greater accountability. At the core of this process, asset management forms the foundation upon which our system designs thrive.
For more stories of impact, head to our Impact Report 2022-2023.