Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

Clean Water for Hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania: Addressing Inequity Through Technology and Partnerships

Mark Knight and Philippe de Susanne
| April 19, 2023 |

Many communities across the globe already struggle with reliable access to clean water. The pandemic made access more challenging and created a bigger divide between the haves and have nots.

The United Nations’ landmark Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address equity in relation to many of life’s necessities, like decent work or access to clean water and sanitation, and while great advances have been made on many, creating more equity around basic needs has been difficult. Projects to improve local conditions are pivotal in addressing this inequity and can only be accomplished through technology and partnerships.

The German government spearheaded one such project to improve water supply and quality in Kenya and Tanzania, where at least one-third of residents live in extreme poverty (on less than $1.90 per day). The German Investment Corporation aimed to provide one million liters of clean water per day for 28 hospitals and clinics, and called on Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions to be part of the mission. The results show how quickly progress can be made with the right partners and the right goals.

Basic Needs Are Intertwined

The pandemic hasn’t been the only event driving increased need for clean water. Generations of political conflict or extreme weather have created insurmountable barriers to sustainability for entire nations and regions. Increased climate change impacts, for example, are causing droughts in some areas and extreme weather events in others, with both threatening food and water supplies.

Meanwhile, the increasing global population is creating additional demand for water and food across swaths of the planet. These factors are among the biggest reasons why the SDGs address equity, as applied to our most vital necessities. Seven of the U.N.’s 17 SDGs directly address creating more equity and reducing existing inequalities:

  • No poverty
  • Zero hunger
  • Good health and well-being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Reduced inequalities

A Brookings report on how American leadership can best advance SDGs to achieve equity and sustainability cited the way the pandemic and social unrest of 2020 further highlighted the interconnected nature of the many challenges we face.

While COVID-19 was primarily a health issue, it quickly became deeply intertwined in nearly every facet of our lives. The ensuing web of problems and changes indicate why partnerships and connections between industries and governments need to be a key driver of SDG success.

Cleaner Water Needed at Kenyan Hospitals

That kind of interconnected problem-solving made all the difference in Kenya and Tanzania. To help communities faced with an unstable water supply and inconsistent water quality across both countries, the German government partnered with WaterKiosk Ltd. and Boreal Light to provide clean water each day.

The project centered on supplying clean water at new, decentralized plants that are also part of one of Africa’s largest solar-powered water desalination projects, requiring reliable technology that minimized maintenance. Veolia was chosen to provide AG Series reverse osmosis elements to treat permeate water at Coast General Hospital and Mombasa Hospital near the Mombasa, Kenya coastline.

The technology reduced both bacteria and virus content in the water, enabling solar-powered reverse osmosis systems to provide clean and hygienic water for the hospitals that require it and keeping thousands safe from potential serious illness.

Our work in Africa is a small but vital piece of progress in the overall pursuit of SDGs. It is made more significant by the fact that it directly addresses equity and is in immediate response to a need of the hour. So much of the work we perform every day at Veolia contributes to a more sustainable future, and when it also contributes to equity, our efforts amplify results for all.

About the Author

Mark Knight and Philippe de Susanne

Mark Knight is an environmental and sustainability specialist with over 15 years of experience in both the Water and Energy sectors.  Currently, Mark is the Global Sustainability & ESG Leader for Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions.  Before joining Veolia, he was a Senior Engineer, Environmental Excellence & Sustainability at Suncor Energy.  Mark has published, presented, and won awards on various topics, including Industrial Water Treatment, Sustainability & ESG, Biotechnology, Digital Solutions, and Bioethics.  He is also extremely active in organizations, including the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the International Water Association (IWA), and the Capitals Coalition. He is also a member of the board for Ecologos/WaterDocs.  Mark has an M.A.Sc. in Environmental Applied Science & Management, a B.Sc. in Chemical & Bioengineering, and is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) in Ontario, Canada.

Philippe de Susanne is a global expert on Environmental Sustainability with more than ten years of experience, and he is currently the Regional Environmental Leader for Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions, promoting environmental performance, GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emission reductions, and regulatory compliance.

Philippe started his career in the Caribbean and West African countries, leading projects to strengthen oil spill preparedness and response capability. He then joined BP Upstream central team in the UK, where he coordinated in the implementation of the new oil spill preparedness standard following the deep water horizon incident. Philippe then led the BP Angola Regulatory Compliance and Environment team, where he achieved major GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction initiatives.

Philippe and his wife Claire are now based in Lyon, France, with their 14 years old daughter and 11 years old daughter. In his spare time, Philippe likes all sorts of outdoor activities in Alpes, playing guitars and DIY.