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3 Years OKP ‘Bridging the Water’ in South Africa

Gepubliceerd op 22 December 2021

On April 6, 2022, the closing workshop of the OKP project "Bridging the Water" was held at the Rickety Bridge Winery in Franschhoek, Cape Town. Employing a hybrid approach, the workshop accommodated both physical attendance and online participation due to prevailing travel restrictions.


A comprehensive invitation was extended to municipalities across South Africa and stakeholders within the water sector. Work package leaders from the Netherlands and South Africa presented key highlights from the project's activities during the workshop, which was skillfully facilitated by SALGA. An engaging session ensued, involving stakeholders from municipalities and universities, focusing on charting a sustainable trajectory for the project. Feedback from participants highlighted the project's significant contribution to enhancing the skills and interests of water practitioners in South Africa, as well as fostering productive dialogue among diverse stakeholder groups. The workshop culminated in a visit to one of the project's living laboratories, the "Franschhoek Water Hub."

In 2019 the Orange Knowledge Programme ‘Bridging the Water’ took off. The project, funded by Nuffic, is a collaboration between Dutch and South African partners to improve the skills and knowledge of water professionals in South Africa and to develop sustainable knowledge-exchange and collaboration.

Bridging the Water
World Water Academy is leading partner of this project. The other Dutch partners are Technical University Delft, Hogeschool  Rotterdam, Centre of Expertise Water Technology (CEW) Leeuwarden and Waterschap Brabantse Delta. South African partners are the University of Cape Town, Durban University of Technology, SALGA, City of Cape Town and eThekwini Municipality.

The project ultimately aims at embedding an action-learning and co-creating approach in the form of living labs and training of trainers for students, universities and municipalities and practical training of staff. Additionally, it is targeted at developing sustainable knowledge transfer and cooperation amongst stakeholders, thus bridging the gaps between theory and practice, research and implementation, education and workplace and engineers and operators.

Dutch and South African partners cocreate and offer solutions in water education to improve water management, water services and the livelihood of citizens. Over the last three years we have achieved great results.


Living Labs
So far, nine living labs have been carried out in which 136 students from the Netherlands and South Africa have participated. Partners consider living labs as a triple helix collaboration approach where different stakeholders from the universities, private institutions and the municipalities come together in a physical or virtual space to solve a particular challenge or recognized problem.

Challenges like plastic pollution in rivers, water re-use, measuring water quality and using Anammox technology for wastewater treatment were used in the living labs.


Training and Training of trainers
World Water Academy has developed multiple courses in water production and wastewater treatment in collaboration with the City of Cape Town and eThewkwini Municipality. Around 300 process controllers in Cape Town and Durban have participated in the ‘Basics of Wastewater Treatment’ and ‘Basics of Drinking Water Production’ courses. Also, advanced courses such as ‘Nutrient Removal and Sludge Treatment’ were successfully developed and implemented. All courses developed under ‘Bridging the Water’ have been accredited by The Energy & Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA), the skills development authority serving the energy and water sectors in South Africa. This way we ensured added value for all participants and their organizations. Furthermore the masterclass Anammox has been delivered twice. This video gives an impression:

The Training of Trainers programme organized by World Water Academy has trained a pool of enthusiastic South African water professionals to become local trainers. At the end of the project the local pool of trainers will be able to continue being instructors and deliver these specific water courses throughout South African Municipalities. This contributes to the overarching goal of achieving long term sustainability and institutionalization of the activities that are being developed in the project.

2021 was mainly characterized by the theme dissemination. Developed courses were transferred to other municipalities in South Africa in collaboration with SALGA. For example the wastewater treatment courses have been delivered at Johannesburg Water and Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT).

World Water Academy is proud of all partners and of the achievements within the project. Although the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions that followed we have managed to achieve great project results. Through strong relationships and collaboration, all partners put in their best effort to stay optimistic, be flexible and continue delivering the project through virtual channels.

Together we have created a strong foundation on which we can all continue to build on in the future. Plans for more living labs next year are already being set up. Also, further collaboration on training development and implementation is being explored. With a three month extension of the project into 2022 we expect to continue delivering a great deal of courses in the first months of 2022!