Maji Matone

Quick Look

Maji Matone allows citizens to report waterpoint breakdowns via SMS and informs them about rural water supply issues.

Beginning Date: 
March 2, 2009
Annual Budget 2009: 
Annual Budget 2010: 
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 


Maji Matone (Raising the Water Pressure) is a program by Daraja, a civil society organization based in southern Tanzania, that informs citizens about rural water supply issues, allows them to send text messages to a central number to report breakdowns in the water supply, and then forwards the information to the relevant authorities. It partners with the media to bring more attention to the breakdowns as a way of putting pressure on the government to respond.

Maji Matone “piggybacks” on the National Rural Water Supply Infrastructure Monitoring System, a government project that enables authorities to monitor citizens’ access to water. This system will soon include the development of a simple mobile-based application that will allow the District Water Engineers Office (responsible for repairing broken rural water points) to report on the status of the water points, helping with monitoring efforts. Maji Matone will allow citizens to add their input and report outages and breakdowns of which District Water Engineers may not be aware.

Access to clean water is a major challenge in Tanzania, where rural water points break down and are not repaired quickly. The government has recently shown an interest in improving the situation (funding to support rural water access has increased 400% since 2006), and Daraja´s project can contribute to make sure the resources go where they are needed the most.


Tell me a little about your project.: 

My name is Ben Taylor, and I am the founder of Daraja. Preparations for our Maji Matone program began in late 2009, and the program will begin formal operations in late 2010. The idea came from previous work I had been involved with, collecting data on rural water points, and recognizing that the same idea could be combined with mobile technology to create a citizen monitoring system for rural water supply.

The main problem the program aims to overcome is that rural water points break down and do not get repaired quickly. When a water point breaks down, it can take months or even years before a repair is carried out. This is partly for financial reasons, but also because of poor communications between remote areas (most of which have mobile phone coverage) and the district centre, and partly because local government officials focus more on new water supply schemes than on keeping existing schemes functioning. We’re using mobile phones to create a system for citizens to report breakdowns and other problems to the District Water Engineers Office, so that action can be taken more quickly.

We have a short code number, 15440, for the program, where we can receive incoming messages from citizens. Messages are charged to the sender at normal network rates and we pay a small fee charged by the aggregator for each SMS sent or received. We have partnerships with the engineers and we plan to forward them the SMSs we receive on a daily basis. We will also aggregate the reports and send a monthly report with a full list of incoming messages by email.

What's your vision for the project?: 

I personally became involved in the program because I wanted to see if the power of information, communications and political pressure could be used to bring about improvements in rural water supply. I had seen similar ideas working effectively in other sectors, and was working on a program that produced excellent data on the state of rural water supply services but made very little use of that data.

How does your work currently turn into offline change? : 

Our work also involves close partnerships with radio stations to exert pressure on local government officials to respond quickly to information provided by citizens. We therefore expect to achieve offline change by combining use of relatively new media technology (mobile phones) with the older technology of radio, creating a way of collecting information from citizens across a wide area and concentrating that flow of information into radio broadcasts that pressure local government to take action. SMS technology is a simple way of collecting information from citizens on water point breakdowns in rural areas, and radio is a simple way of converting that information into political pressure.

We cannot give concrete examples at this stage, as the program begins collecting information through the SMS system in November 2010. For the same reason, we cannot yet say what the biggest obstacles will be.

We will judge our success through concrete changes in service delivery. If the functionality rate of rural water points increases (it is currently at 54% nationally), and we can demonstrate that we have contributed to achieving this increase, we will consider the program to be successful. We also use a variety of more immediate measures to monitor progress, such as the number of SMSs received and processed, radio programs broadcast, etc.

What is your civic role?: 

Our relationship with government is largely positive. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is well informed about our work and is supportive, and we have a formal partnership with the District Water Engineers Office. Reactions from local government are more mixed, though broadly receptive. We present ourselves as neither a confrontational actor nor an ally of government, but as a facilitator of information flows from citizens to government and vice versa.

The main channel of information we provide is bottom-up, channeling information from citizens to government. We also facilitate public access to official data. In both cases, these are roles that should ideally be performed by government. In the case of collecting information from citizens, government is over-reliant on formal, chain-of-command methods, which are effectively dysfunctional, and largely uninterested in exploring how new technology can streamline this process. In the case of public access to official data, government does not see this as a priority. This may also be linked to the unflattering picture that this data presents.

Has your work been replicated?: 

It is too early to speak of replicating our work elsewhere, though we are aware of a number of organizations watching this work with interest.

What transparency/accountability organizations do you work with?: 

We communicate regularly with other organizations in Tanzania and East Africa that are either working to promote citizens’ agency and/or making innovative use of new technology. This includes Frontline SMS and SODNET in Kenya and Twaweza/Uwazi in Tanzania. Our main channel of communications is online, through email, and occasional face-to-face meetings.


well done

its a real wonderful program as it is using a power of citizen agency as a only way of promoting rural water development

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