Local support to innovate the water sector

Centre of Expertise

The Centre of Expertise aims to improve the South African water supply and sanitation sector by matching local water knowledge and technology needs with those of the Netherlands. Bringing their model for international collaboration to a workshop in Department of Design, they open up about their support of local needs.

How can your model for the water and sanitation sector benefit South Africa?

The model directly helps solve needs in the sector. Innovative technology needs support in order to get better service delivery at lower costs. Indirectly, the model stimulates economic development in South Africa.

Dutch innovators simply can’t just stop at importing: local support is also needed. In the beginning, technical support is needed after the installation of the new technology. Later on, support is also required for the assembly and installation. The model also assists in changing the attitudes of those in the water and sanitation sectors.

How can the Netherlands learn from challenges that South Africa faces?

South Africa is a perfect testing ground for new technology. If it works in South Africa, it can be tried out in other African countries. The general attitude in South Africa is to make things work, by hook or by crook and to organise things on the spot: “Een boere maak een plan.”

This attitude is something that is very beneficial in piloting new technology. South Africa can teach Dutch innovators which adjustments need to be made in new technology for it to work in South Africa. The collaboration is a win-win approach.

Certain technical topics and circumstances are unique in South Africa and will benefit technology development in general. Non-revenue water is a topic that is being neglected in the Dutch water sector, yet is central in South Africa.

What do you hope to accomplish in Department of Design?

The Centre of Expertise aims to grow the exposure of its concepts within the water sector in the Western Cape. Secondly, The Centre of Expertise wants to hear from other sectors what they think of this concept for water and sanitation, and see if it is exportable to other sectors where innovation is needed and outside (foreign) technology can be brought into the market.

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