The PULA app: a customer acquisition and tracking tool for vacuum tanker businesses

Themes: Faecal sludge management Innovation Tools and guidance
Countries: Ghana Kenya Zambia

Service providers involved in faecal sludge management (FSM) are held back by a lack of current data on their customer base, operating standards and levels of service.

This Practice Note introduces PULA, an innovative mobile app now being developed to bridge the data gap.

In WSUP’s experience, one key barrier to citywide FSM service provision is lack of data. This means a lack of up-to-date information about the areas of the city being serviced by FSM businesses; about the target customer base for these businesses, and the extent to which businesses are reaching low-income households; and about operating standards (the extent to which businesses are providing a safely managed service). Without this data, authorities are left in the dark about the state of sanitation service provision in their city, undermining their ability to plan, implement and evaluate FSM interventions.

A mobile app has the potential to respond effectively to these challenges, by facilitating real-time, accurate data collection. This in turn will give municipal authorities a clear picture of sanitation in their city; and support the professionalisation of vacuum tanker businesses, by giving drivers the means to collect detailed information about their customer base and jobs completed.
PULA: the design process.

WSUP and project partners BoP and UX are in the process of developing the app through an iterative human-centred design process, with the aim of ensuring app design and functionality respond to genuine user requirements. Initial, intensive ‘Design Sprints’ have been conducted in Ghana and Kenya to develop early prototypes and gather feedback through interviews and workshops with target users, including vacuum tanker business owners and water and sewerage utilities.

The aim is to develop an app which can be customised to the local context, enabling vacuum tanker owners, drivers and municipal sanitation authorities to choose from a menu of features.