Durban wins prestigious Stockholm water award

30 May 2014

Durban Municipality’s eThekwini Water and Sanitation has been named the 2014 winner of the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award for its transformative and inclusive approach to providing water and sanitation services.

Announcing the award on Wednesday, the Stockholm International Water Institute described eThekwini Water and Sanitation as the most progressive water utility in Africa and “a forerunner in the world of utility-run services”.

“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,” the institute said in a statement.

“In respecting the constitutional right to water while maintaining financial sustainability, 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.”

Besides providing basic services to a large and diverse population, the institute noted, eThekwini Water and Sanitation is at the forefront of exploring technical and social solutions.

These include pioneering solutions for harvesting rainwater and converting urban waste water for agricultural uses, as well as a mini hydro-power project which replaces pressure-reducing valves in pipes running down steep hillsides with mini-turbines that use the excess pressure to generate electricity.

This 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”, the institute said.

Neil Macleod, head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation, said the award “reflects the work of our whole team over the past 22 years and is a tremendous honour for all of us here in Durban”.

South Africa’s Constitution, widely praised as a model for its inclusion of social rights, enshrines the human right to water.

SAinfo reporter