Recent research from Oxford is arguing that the rapid expansion of mobile communication technology in Africa should be harnessed for enhancing water security. This year, more people in Africa will have mobile phone services than access to improved water services. At the same time, Africa is leading the world in mobile commerce innovations, including mobile water payments. People can now use their mobile phones to pay their water bills. These technological innovations have the potential to change the landscape of water insecurity in the region but they need to be harnessed.
This is not the only way — or the only place — that communication technologies can have a positive influence on water governance. The losses from Hurricane Katrina in the United States were exacerbated by a poorly functioning and spotty communication network among residents, city officials, and national emergency response agencies. This communication network was recently tested with Hurricane Isaac and improvements in communication were thought to be a major reason why the damages and deaths were so low.
With the rapid growth of communication technologies, there are probably a stunning number of additional ways they can be used to support and enhance water governance.