eThekwini Water and Sanitation, serving the Durban metropolitan area, received the Stockholm Industry Water Award at a ceremony during World Water Week, for its transformative and inclusive approach to providing water and sanitation.
“I stand here today as part of a team of dedicated professionals who have worked with me over the past 22 years. It is a tremendous honour for all of us in Durban,” said Neil Macleod of eThekwini Water and Sanitation on receiving the prize.
In his acceptance speech, Macleod underlined the role policy has had in the success of eThekwini Water and Sanitation. “If the politicians had not dared to take bold decisions, we would not have been able to do what we did. You need an enabling environment,” he said.
Most progressive in Africa
eThekwini has been called the most progressive water utility in Africa by the Stockholm Industry Water Award (SIWA) jury.
“eThekwini has championed the approach to provide sufficient water to sustain human life, as expressed in the South African constitution, now embedded in national policy. The methods used and results achieved by eThekwini Water and Sanitation serve as a sterling example for the many communities worldwide facing similar challenges,” stated the SIWA jury in its citation.
In the past 14 years, 1.3 million additional people in greater Durban have been connected to piped water and 700 000 people have been provided with access to toilets.
Access to basic water supply and sanitation is provided at no cost to poor families, while higher levels of service and consumption are charged at full cost, thus respecting the constitutional right to water while maintaining financial sustainability.
At the forefront of innovation
In addition to successfully providing basic services to a large and diverse population, eThekwini Water and Sanitation is at the forefront of exploring technical and social solutions.
One example is a mini hydro-power project. Instead of using pressure reducing valves in pipes running down steep hillsides, the company is installing mini turbines using the excess pressure to generate electricity for the city’s low tension grid.
The eThekwini municipality is also pioneering solutions to convert urban wastewater challenges to agricultural opportunities as well as harvesting rainwater.
The combined result is one of the most progressive utilities in the world. The open approach to experimenting and piloting new solutions across both technical and social aspects of service delivery has made eThekwini a forerunner in the world of utility-run services.