The Water Point Mapper is a free tool developed by WaterAid for producing maps showing the status of water supply services. It is aimed at water, sanitation, hygiene practitioners as well as local governments working at the district and sub-district levels in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Mapper has been designed for use in situations where there is no internet connectivity.
Water Point Mapper can be used to display district or village level coverage including system functionality, as well as access levels, financing and planning needs, water quality, and project and programme performance
Based on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, it instantly converts water point data into Google Earth compatible maps. Google Earth can be run locally in the field on a machine completely offline. The maps can be saved as images which can be easily shared.
WaterAid says the Mapper can be used with very minimal training by local staff to generate water point maps and perform analyses that would have formerly involved complex software. The tool can help to establish low-cost data updating mechanisms which can feed into national level water point inventories.
The Mapper uses a small number of core parameters to produce maps. Additional maps can be generated using non-essential parameters. Parameter names are customisable by the user. The Mapper has point and shape data handling capability so trends can be aggregated and presented at local-authority administrative level.
It is designed to work using Windows XP, 98, Vista, running Excel 2003 or 97. It will run in Excel 2007 but should not be saved as an Excel 2007 entity or it will stop working. It uses the Google Earth application to visualise data. Once Google Earth has been installed, it can be run offline. It does not require an internet connection to generate maps. Detailed base maps can be cached in Google Earth when an internet connection is present. These can be used offline later.
John Butterworth of the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre has tested a beta-version of Water Point Mapper in Ethiopia. He used it in a training workshop on “Using WASH Information” for Woreda-level (district-level) staff in the RiPPLE programme. Normally Woreda-level staff submit WASH data to national level bodies, but do not use the data themselves. By visualising the data in maps, it can really help local staff in planning, implementing and monitoring water services. John was impressed with Water Point Mapper and is considering using the tool to map the use of traditional wells in the RiPPLE programme.
For more information on mapping see MacDonald, A., Dochartaigh, B.O., & Welle, K. 2009. Mapping for water supply and sanitation (WSS) in Ethiopia. RiPPLE working paper 11, Addis Ababa. Download full paper,
Sample map on Water Point Revenue Collection (click to enlarge)