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Imtech helps solve water problems in South Africa


Gouda, the Netherlands - Imtech (technical services provider in Europe and in the global marine market) announces that in the context of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, it has succeeded in substantially improving water supplies in the Gert Sibande District Municipality (formerly Transvaal) in South Africa. The operational output of local waste water purification systems is now remotely monitored 24/7 by an intelligent Internet system, so that possible failures are immediately flagged and resolved. In addition, an operational improvement and maintenance plan has been implemented to improve operations on location. The output of the waste water treatment process in Gert Sibande forms part of the input for the production of clean drinking water for the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. On balance, this has reduced water wastage by dozens of percent and considerably improved the quality and safety of the drinking water.

Imtech CEO Rene van der Bruggen: ‘Many of the major global issues – water, energy and the environment – relate to and can be solved by technology. Imtech is one of the strongest technical players in Europe and has relevant knowledge in this area. In addition, we believe, in the context of our CSR policy, in boosting local organisations and entrepreneurs in developing countries. This is achieved by sending our own specialists to Third World countries – which we have been doing since 2008 – and hooking them up with these local organisations. If you offer local people the right knowledge and technology, they are able to find their own targeted solutions for their own challenges and issues, which also boosts the prosperity and welfare of local communities in developing countries. Every year, we make a disinterested investment of around one million euro in this part of our CSR programme.’

Cosmas Blaauw of Imtech partner SharePeople sees Imtech’s practical approach to CSR as a good example of the new-style development aid as advocated by Dutch State Secretary Ben Knapen. Blaauw: ‘The Netherlands’ new development aid policy stakes its cards, among other things, on active partnerships with the Dutch private sector. However, this does not necessarily have to lead to business opportunities in developing countries. Imtech has seen added value in its CSR approach since as early as 2008. Sharing knowledge and technology contributes to economic progress in developing countries. At the same time, these projects increase skills and knowledge of Imtech’s employees. They go on to also share this knowledge internally. This process has led to the development of new forms of services within Imtech, which are now being implemented within the Amsterdam Smart City initiative, for instance. In addition, involved employees are lifelong CSR ambassadors within Imtech, and serve as a strong source of inspiration in daily practice. Moreover, customers and other stakeholders get to know Imtech as a company that takes its social responsibility seriously.’

Water issues in South Africa
Since the end of Apartheid, the South African population has had a constitutional right to water. However, in recent years, South Africa has suffered an increasing shortage of clean water. In a country where over a quarter of the population lives on USD 1.25 or less per day, a large number of people depend on this water supply. Many municipalities and districts can, however, no longer guarantee the quality and availability of the mains water. The Gert Sibande District Municipality had to deal with a complex set of issues: waste water and clean water were not given the right chemical treatment, there was insufficient awareness about water usage and (waste) water management and the water supply of major cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria threatened to stagnate.

In 2010 and 2011, an effort was made to solve these issues, by deploying various teams of Imtech specialists drawn from four countries. In partnership with the Gert Sibande District Municipality, the team worked on an awareness campaign combating the wastage and pollution of water and developed a system to improve the quality of the waste water process, monitor it via the Internet and professionally manage the quality and availability of clean water. After the test phase, this system will be made available later this year to a number of water purification systems in South Africa. The Netherlands Embassy is involved in this process. The Dutch knowledge network organisation SharePeople, which specialises in dispatching multidisciplinary development teams to Third World countries, acts as Imtech’s partner.


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