In Bwaise, a crowded and patchwork neighborhood in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, a lack of planning has fostered a chaotic mix of people, businesses and needs – but without a proper infrastructure to serve them. This has left the community at the mercy of Mother nature’s worst whims, like flooding and infectious disease. It’s no surprise, then, that Bwaise has long been plagued by a lack of clean, affordable drinking water.

But thanks to the work of RAIN, in cooperation with the National Water and Sewage Corporation (NWSC) in Uganda, a network of vendors has been established to overcome the lack of proper infrastructure. Paid under a franchising arrangement, local vendors have supplied families and businesses with clean water and significantly lower cost than was possible before.

The system leverages prepaid water purchases, using tokens, allowing for water purchases to be planned ahead of time at rates that are manageable and predictable. “We now drink clean and safe water and this encourages parents to bring their children to benefit from improved sanitation,” said Henry Kayemba, a vendor who began operations in January 2013. What’s more, because Kayemba’s water operation is housed at the schools he owns and operates, many customers are now enrolling their children in classes for the first time.

“When customers come to recharge their tokens, they witness the quality of education we provide,” he said. “Prepaid water is surely the way to go!”

During a recent water system performance review in Bwaise, households reported saving more than 50 percent on water costs. And the water they’re now receiving is cleaner and safer than ever.