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Mobile technology boosts access to clean water for the poor

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A young girl pumps water from a well in the village of Manugay in the Pech River Valley of Afghanistan's Kunar Province. Mobile technologies are allowing nonprofit groups to better monitor and serve the water needs of developing nations.

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Information technology is a powerful tool for experts working to provide secure access to water for personal use, food production, and business in developing nations.

Giving poor people proper access to safe water and sanitation would save 2.5 million people a year from dying from diarrhea and other diseases spread by a lack of hygiene, according to the charity WaterAid.

The widespread availability of mobile phones has enabled the development of low-cost solutions aimed at improving water security and reducing poverty.

Three quarters of the world's 7 billion people have access to a mobile phone, according to a World Bank report. There are 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, of which almost 5 billion are in developing countries.

IN PICTURES: World Water Day 

This is where mobile networks come in – they have led to the development of communication services that aim to increase the transparency and reliability of water delivery.  For example, mobile technology has allowed service providers to monitor water supply to prevent theft and leakages, while offering more effective repairs and billing.

But these innovative efforts still face huge political and logistical challenges, complicated by the risks linked to climate change, experts say.

Here are five mobile strategies that are already helping people get better access to water and sanitation:

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