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MOPA: How an app generates data that help clean-up Maputo

News | November 16, 2017

In Mozambique’s capital Maputo, the Monitoria Participativa Maputo (MOPA) has helped significantly improve the city’s waste management systems.  It has done this through the use of high quality technology to enable greater interaction between marginalised communities and local government.

Maputo has a population of over 1.1 million people, with 54 per cent living below the poverty line and 70 per cent living in informal settlements. The majority of the city’s roads are unpaved and flood control is limited, particularly in informal settlements in peri-urban areas. During the rainy season, streets flood and gutters quickly fill with debris and garbage, blocking the drainage of rainwater.

Solid waste management is one of the most important services that the Maputo Municipal Council must provide. However the lack of funding, capacity, and transparency within the municipality has resulted in substandard waste removal.

The municipality has contracted private companies to collect the waste from the urban communities. Micro-entrepreneurs are hired to travel by foot through high-density, low-income areas using trolleys to pick up trash from households and communal bins in the peri-urban neighborhoods.

Both the waste removal companies and individual waste collectors have difficulties locating waste for removal, coordinating their routes and organising collection points.

MOPA – a tool for both citizens and local government

MOPA is a communications platform that allows participatory monitoring of waste collection in Maputo. Once a waste management problem is reported, one of two large waste collection companies and 56 micro-enterprises act to resolve it. Their actions are logged on the platform by Maputo’s municipality staff.

Implemented by the private company UX Information Technologies and co-designed with the Maputo Municipal Waste Management Services, the platform was initially supported by the World Bank.

With funding from Making All Voices Count, the platform expanded to 42 neighbourhoods (from the four pilot areas) and managed to include a free-to-user mobile application that can be used on any cellphone device with USSD and SMS alternatives. This change enabled residents to directly notify the municipality of problems, track their resolution, and get updates on when and how their issue has been addressed.

Mopa Website

On its first day, the platform received more than 1,000 reports and within two weeks had yielded 2,000 ‘data points’. The team’s aspiration had been to reach 2,000 data points in a period of six months.

MOPA improved the response time of the Municipality by structuring the process of identifying the problem (citizen input through USSD), notifying the people responsible for the solution (multiple SMS sent by the platform to their phones), solving the problem and reporting (phone call) and providing feedback to the citizen (SMS sent by the platform to their phone.) – UX Information Technologies Team

What changed? How an app helped clean-up Maputo

A total of 6266 reports were made by an average of 3281 citizens, with the majority of citizens making a report on average twice. Furthermore, the project improved waste removal response time from 5 days to 14 hours with a 64 per cent response rate.

Increased space for citizen-government engagement

Targetting lower-income areas, MOPA has enabled more and more marginalised voices to engage directly with a municipality that is there to serve their needs.

Throughout Maputo’s neighborhoods, residents now have a better sense of their right to clean and healthy living spaces as part of ‘basic service delivery’ and their right to hold their government accountable for the services they provide.

For the municipality, MOPA has enabled more direct contact with citizens through the USSD and SMS Mobile App features, integrating the various options to meet the community-specific needs of users.

Seeing people engaging with the platform is already a progress towards participatory governance. - Luisa Langabila, Chief of the Municipality Planning Department and focal point for MOPA

Moreover, through short videos on public screens, residents were invited to “join the fun” of “mopping” the city and this encouraged a wider spectrum of residents to directly engage their municipality, helping to change the way people perceive government services.

Improved and more efficient service delivery

Before MOPA, the process was long. Monitors would drive throughout the city and sometimes would come back with no information. Citizens had to write letters that would go from one person to another for days until it reached the right person in the municipality. - Luisa Langabila, Chief of the Municipality Planning Department and focal point for MOPA

By co-designing the platform and support features of the MOPA system, the Maputo Municipality enhanced their current systems to make it easier and ultimately cheaper to operate the waste management services, thereby ensuring healthier and more pleasing social living conditions.  It is now the official system of the Maputo Municipality.

Mopa Maputo

With the introduction of the app, vehicle maintenance costs and officials travel time has been diminished; efficiencies created in review and response and the lack of need to hire additional surveyors to significantly increase the efficacy of services has been realised.  This is due to the exponential growth of reporting power, where previously there were 2 surveyors per district, to the 3281 users making reports.

This tool has been useful for the contract management with the waste collectors. There has been a change in their behavior because they know that the citizens are watching them and have a tool to report on them. Their service has really improved. The municipality also works better, we are solving more issues.– Luisa Langabila, Chief of the Municipality Planning Department and focal point for MOPA

Future Actions

The main challenge for MOPA now is to keep the interest and turnaround high and momentum on usage of the platform towards changing the way people perceive government services.

The technology is also being adapted to meet other community needs.  A version of the platform designed for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Department of Maputo will be launched in November 2017, with other cities also intending to implement the platform for various service needs.

The MOPA project received the support of ‎£95,277 and was implemented from May 2016 to August 2017.