The fact that SafeWaterAfrica is a gain for both the environment and the economy has prompted the Solar Impulse Foundation to award the project the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution label. The Swiss foundation, founded by environmental visionary and researcher Bertrand Piccard, rewards efficient technical solutions that sustainably combat climate change and are also economically viable.
Solar Impulse Foundation label spurs on implementation
The Solar Impulse Efficient Solution label provides the project with a powerful boost. “We are very happy about the award for the SafeWaterAfrica project. We would like to utilize the publicity it brings in order to further advance the implementation at local level,” reported Dr. Lothar Schäfer, Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer IST and coordinator of SafeWaterAfrica. South of the Sahara, 40 percent of the population – i.e. more than 100 million people – have no access to clean water. The water-treatment system from the SafeWaterAfrica project improves living conditions and the health situation. “What is special about the plants is that they are not solutions for Africa, as is often the case,” emphasized Dr. Lothar Schäfer. “The development is “Made in Africa”: In the design and construction, our African partners provided the major contribution. The operation of the two plants was carried out exclusively by local personnel in South Africa and Mozambique.”
“Made in Africa” approach ensures high level of acceptance
This high level of own contribution has played a major role in the success. Experience shows that many projects fail in Africa if the local communities are not involved in the planning and implementation. To ensure that the drinking-water treatment plants are accepted, SafeWaterAfrica follows the “Made in Africa” approach. The maxim is that African companies perform as much development work, component construction and installation as possible. In order to promote training, two African universities were involved in the project. During the field tests, which lasted several months, student and academic staff operated the systems and evaluated the tests.
In the past three years, the Solar Impulse Foundation has honored more than 1000 technological innovations with its label worldwide. In the spirit of the foundation’s founder Bertrand Piccard, they are intended to be important tools for enabling governments and companies to work together to combat climate change. The water-treatment system from the SafeWaterAfrica project is now one of these award-winning solutions.
To address environmental challenges while enabling economic growth, Bertrand Piccard has launched, through the Solar Impulse Foundation, the challenge of selecting 1000 profitable solutions to protect the environment in order to convince decision-makers in governments and businesses to achieve their environmental targets and adopt more ambitious energy policies, which are necessary to pull these solutions to market. Our aim: to accelerate the transition to a carbon-free and sustainable economy.