It's no secret that securing clean, potable water in many parts of the world is difficult. The United Nations estimates that as many as 783 million people struggle with it every day.
Many parts of sub-Saharan Africa are heavily affected, caused in part by exceedingly dry conditions. While water projects are common in remote African villages, pumps often break or don't work as well as intended.
One Oregon company is aiming to address the effectiveness of remote African water projects, starting with a large project in Rwanda.
"The unfortunate reality is that as many as half of the water pumps in low-income countries fail within the first couple years," said Evan Thomas, SweetSense CEO.
SweetSense, a startup partially owned by Portland State University, plans to install more than 200 sensors in water pumps in Rwandan villages in April. The project will ensure that installed pumps are behaving correctly and send an alert, using cell phone signals, when they aren't.
The company will work in partnership with Living Water International, a group that has operated water projects in Rwanda since 2007.
The project will monitor water that serves 60,000 Rwandans.