A former Israeli diplomat is helping to bring sustainable, affordable water solutions to the African continent.
Ornit Avidar, formerly a diplomat for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has founded Waterways, a company she hopes can bring clean water and water security to rural Africa.
Six years ago, when Avidar began researching sustainable water solutions in Africa, she realized that in the past, water development projects had a major flaw.
“When we started looking at the issue of water in rural areas, the most confounding statistics popped up,” she said. “We found that some 50 percent of water projects in rural areas simply don’t exist after one year. For me, this is dollars going down the drain.”
Pointing out that launching projects only to have them fold before results can be seen is “not economical and not acceptable,” she said that she looked long and hard into the reasons the projects failed and how she might help.
The result was Waterways, which Avidar founded in 2010 in order to provide small-scale, locally beneficial water solutions to rural villages.
“When implementing solutions in rural areas with long term sustainability in mind, there is no use in advanced technology, as most of these regions do not have electricity or long term maintenance ability,” Avidar said in a Waterways article. To combat this issue, Avidar and her Israeli-based team advocates for using simple, easily maintainable solutions that do not require huge start-up costs.
Waterways also advocates for using local contractors who can then maintain the systems as well as matching the technology to the needs of the client, rather than the client with the technology, as often happens in ‘hard technology’ projects.
Avidar admitted that the focus on simple, “soft technologies” and local labor has made her company a tough sell to investors who often focus on hard technology solutions.
“Obviously, we would love to get funding,” Avidar said, adding that the lack of start-up funds won’t stop her team.
“Some see the use of soft solutions as not fundable, but that doesn’t deter us,” she added, noting that even without funding they had already made an impact in Africa.