We want low-income households in mid-western Uganda to sign-up for piped water service and pay their bills regularly so that the most vulnerable gain access to safer, cleaner, and more affordable water

WSUP (Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor)
Mid-Western Umbrella of Water and Sanitation (Uganda Ministry of Water & Environment)

Western Region, Uganda, including the towns of Kyenjojo, Nyahuka, Kasambya, Kayinja, and Kasenda

Opportunities to bring safer water to rural households

As the regional governmental authority for water and sanitation, the Mid-Western Umbrella (MWU) has recently made great strides in extending piped water into more rural communities around Fort Portal, Uganda. However, as infrastructure has expanded and more households become eligible for taps at home, MWU recognized a number of barriers to uptake, especially amongst the lowest income and most vulnerable. These included perceptions around the affordability of one-off connection fees, concerns about the cost of ongoing usage, and a lack of trust in the reliability of the service. 17 Triggers, together with WSUP and MWU, dove into how these barriers could be overcome via a marketing kit to reach previously excluded segments.

Getting our boots wet

We conducted a two week marketing design sprint, to understand the customer’s barriers and drivers to piped water uptake. One key method used was Journey Mapping – a collaborative method to identify pain points from the customer’s perspective. We also shadowed front line agents to empathize with their specific challenges such as dealing with late payments. This allowed us to pinpoint the value proposition and identify specific opportunities where marketing materials could support conversion. Next, we co-designed and developed a variety of marketing concepts and key messages. Following rapid prototype testing and iteration with the community, we refined the marketing strategy and developed a print-ready marketing toolkit. Now WSUP and MWU are equipped with tools to enhance reach and increase uptake in water connections for low-income households during their six-month pilot period.

Concept testing with homeowners and residents

Woman sharing her thoughts in a Focus Discussion group session

Principles of the campaign

We identified five key principles around which our campaign would be designed, namely that it must be: targeted to the most vulnerable while not isolating others, simple, transparent, visual and high-touch.

Driving New Connections: Reducing touchpoints and encouraging Water Savings Groups

Previously, the user journey to sign-up for piped water was filled with a number of unclear steps. 17 Triggers redesigned the user onboarding journey into a simple one-stop event, together with clear take-home materials to guide new users on the product. Those community members who can’t afford connections on their own are guided to create Water Savings Groups that pool savings and rotate installations amongst peers, mirroring traditional savings structures in the communities.

Facilitating Ongoing Usage: Service visits, take-home service guide and payment stickers

As a way to reduce customer pain points and a lack of trust in the service, we recommended weekly visits by service team members to new customers for the first three months. During these visits, agents and customers sit together to review water meters, record usage in a take-home service guide, and answer any questions or resolve issues. Likewise, rather than waiting to collect payments once a month, agents now help customers create a savings jar to set aside money for weekly payments. Through these nudges and simple incentives like fun/informative stickers for weekly payments, the goal is that missed payments will decrease and customer satisfaction will increase.

Example of tools produced and delivered to the home owners: (from left to right: Service Brochure Welcome Pack, Savings Jar, Payment stickers.

Still underway, the pilot of this marketing plan for vulnerable households is rolling out in 4 locations with a goal of achieving 500 new piped water connections in 3 months. Weekly meetings between MWU operations staff and local agents will track success and ensure ongoing iterations in the strategy.

Water pipelines among households