NextDrop’s first 15,000 customers have been primarily middle class families. However, we wanted to see if our solution could be used for people who use a public tap as well (i.e., they have no in home connection). Our service informs residents in India about the availability of piped water in order to help them lead more productive, less stressful lives.

To test this out, we recruited 37 families who used a local public tap, and gave them the NextDrop service (voice call instead of SMS) for one month, and then went back to see how they liked it.

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These were the results (as documented by our intern, Melissa Morizan):

Households that received the phone calls were satisfied with the service. But a lot of people said they did not receive the calls.

What are the possible reasons?

  • Phones could be turned off.
  • They could be assuming it’s a spam call.
  • Could have given us the wrong number.
  • They change their number often.
  • Often working in the field or away traveling.
  • During the first visit, only two households said they had more than one phone. In the second visit, we learned many of those who had said that they didn’t have two phones in the house actually did.

Potential for Impact

There is a great potential for NextDrop’s service to make a large impact in slum and low-income areas in India. The majority of households in these areas share a public tap. The houses are very compact and crowded, and most households don’t have a way to store water.

The public water tap is scheduled to supply water every 2-3 days, however, this schedule is often changed or delayed. When water does arrive, it’s collected primarily by women and children.

Our team’s visits to these areas have occurred both during water supply and when the scheduled water supply was delayed. During the water supply, we found women and children collecting water from the public tap. They would line up with their buckets, fill it, and then return it to their house. They would then use the water for activities such as bathing or washing clothes so that they could return again to collect more water.

This process is time-consuming, and it requires them to devote all of their time during water supply to water-related activities and chores so that they can get the maximum use while it’s running.

When the scheduled water supply was delayed, we found women waiting around the public tap area, many with buckets of clothes and dishes waiting to be washed. During both of our visits, we also found a lot of children helping to collect and waiting with their families.

There is great potential for NextDrop’s service to have an impact on low-income areas. The service would allow households to plan their day and save the time they normally lose waiting for water to come. If they’re able to use their time more efficiently, we believe this will also eliminate the need for children to miss school to help collect and use water during supply hours.

A Personal Story

As we were finishing up our survey this week in Siddrameshwar Nagar, a low-income neighborhood, my colleague Adity struck up a conversation with a woman sitting near the tap. The woman, Mrs. Savakar, told us she had been waiting for the IVR phone call from NextDrop but had never received it. The call had not been made yet that day because water had been delayed. She then told us that she worked nearby and that the call was very helpful, because when she received it she was able to leave her job, fill up her buckets, and then return to work. Before our service, she had to choose between missing the water and losing hours of work.

Mrs. Savakar was able to use our service to save time and collect water more efficiently. It was clear that she had come to depend on our service in just a short period of time. But when she didn’t receive our call that day she assumed there was a flaw in our information, and waited by the tap as she had done before.

We believe that once our customers are able to see that our product is reliable, they’ll no longer need to wait by the tap, even when there are irregularities in the supply. Our service will save public tap customers precious time and allow them to efficiently use their water supply.