(post co-written with Caroline D’Angel0)
Student Reporter Maria-Tzina Leria interviewed Jean Marc Jahn, Chief Executive Officer of Société des Eaux et de l’Assainissement d’Alger (SEAAL) at the World Water Forum (you can listen to the podcast below). SEAAL is a private-public partnership between Algeria’s government and Suez Environment, the second largest private water company in the world . The partnership exists to expand water and sanitation access, as well as to build capacity at the local level through a specific program, Water International Knowledge Transfer Initiative (WIKTI), which provides videos, training and education to local operators. Suez presented this partnership and WIKTI as a ‘solutions’ in the Village of Solutions and on SolutionsforChange.org, the Forum’s online depository. Mr. Jahn brought Algerian operators with him to the World Water Forum and was clearly proud of the program. He says in the interview that in the past five years, there has been”…60,000 days of training in Algiers, and more than 50 percent of the trainers are Algerian. In the beginning it was zero.” This shift reflects the large investment in knowledge transfer to the local community.
The partnership was born out of massive water shortages in the early 2000s that led the Algerian government to explore privatization options. Up to 40 percent of water sent through Algiers’ system was leaked and wasted. In 2005, the Algerian government passed a new Water Code, which permitted privatization under certain conditions and also provided the government with more enforcement options for environmental violations. The Algerian government invested 14 billion dollars in water and sanitation between 2006 and 2015, and will be investing tens of millions more in the coming years. In the interview, Mr. Jahn describes the change in access to water and sanitation over the last six years, explaining that now 100 percent of distributed water is safe to drink and is available 24 hours a day. Wastewater treatment coverage has expanded from eight to 53 percent of the population and is expected to reach 70 percent by the end of 2012, which is far better than the old system of direct dumping in the Mediterranean. Perhaps reflecting the success of the program, Algiers recently resigned the contract with Suez for another five years.
Listen to the interview and comment below.