Providing safe water for all as the global limelight shines on Cape Town

Cape Town was the first major modern city to have found itself facing a very serious water crisis in 2018. It almost ran out of water. Cutting consumption during a persistent drought, the city preserved its depleted reserves to avoid disaster, brought in expertise from all over the world with alleviating solutions, and was eventually blessed by rain that refilled the reservoirs. This October, the city was once more in the limelight of global water professionals, this time for a more positive reason, as it hosted the W12 Congress – a gathering of 12 cities, including Cape Town, that are proactively facing their water challenges together with experts and technologists from around the world, including DuPont Water Solutions.

A special highlight was the “drive-in” convention, literally allowing delegates to safely engage with each other from their cars in an open-air theatre. The event saw the world premiere of A Waterwise Future for All, as well as new documentary Brave Blue World, featuring Matt Damon and Jaden Smith and narrated by Liam Neeson, which paints an optimistic picture of how humanity is changing its relationship to water. DuPont is proud to be a supporter of Brave Blue World (you can watch it on Netflix) and the W12 as we bring our global technological expertise to bear on solving water scarcity, pollution and sanitation challenges locally, not least in Africa.

In an exciting blend of socially distanced on-site and digital events during October, the renamed W12+ tabled issues, highlighted successes and drew up action plans with a cumulative audience of 17,000 people in more than 50 countries. Task teams incorporated professionals from economics, politics, technical science, natural science, social science and civic society, underlining how water security touches every aspect of our lives and can only be approached united. W12+ chairperson, Rene Frank, explained how the plan was to “bring people together – safely – [to] focus on catalytic solutions tackling water challenges… We’re going beyond classic indoor conferencing and unleashing new, vibrant and engaging experiences; we’re using technology to enable global dialogue through which we will forge the collaborations and knowledge sharing that is needed.”

Helping possibility flow in Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tanzania

There are many recent examples of where our water solutions are at work around the world, but let’s stay on the African continent. Under the project name “JaDi Maji”, for example, DuPont gave the technical advice, training and technology to provide communities and schools in Tanzania with self-managed water storage and filtration systems that level out the volatile and sporadic rainfall in Maasai lands. Further north, in Ethiopia, we have recently helped to bring back hope to Serdo by providing the purification systems that can treat water from boreholes that had had to be capped due to excessive pollution. A containerised ultrafiltration system was installed last year in north-eastern Egypt to give rapid relief to the burgeoning population of four towns in arid lands. And, lastly, we completed a project in 2019 on the outskirts of Nairobi so that a hospital and the local community can rely on the safe treatment of groundwater with high levels of fluoride. All these projects were done in close partnership with the local community, regional government and locally based engineering experts, completed rapidly and with lasting effect.

Such examples serve to show that we have the technology and the ability to solve any water problems if we put our minds to it and join up in partnership. That’s what the global water community was doing in Cape Town in October, and that is what we do every day all over the world to help bring safe water to all parts of society.