The IDB and the Government of Israel partnered to foster innovation technologies in water utilities through a new pilot program in the region.
By Hila Cohen Mizrav*
Incorporating new technologies in water utilities all over the world has not been an easy task due to diverging organizational cultures, budget restrictions, and lack of technical knowledge. In 2019, with a goal to bring new technologies to the region, the IDB and the Israeli Ministry of Economy signed a Technical Cooperation to disseminate knowledge, technologies and innovative policies, and address water and sanitation challenges in the IDB’s client countries.
This collaboration involves knowledge exchange, training, and pilot project design. It focuses on four domains:
- Desalination and water treatment systems to increase water supply
- Smart technologies for water services (Smart Water Infrastructure Technologies – SWIT)
- Wastewater treatment and reuse
- Innovative water policies and policy reform
Next step: Implementation
Last year, the IDB began collaborating with the Israeli Innovation Authority to identify solutions for the water challenges in Lima (Peru), Monterrey (Mexico), and Parauapebas (Brazil). The Authority identified a shortlist of technological companies, which participated in a matchmaking event with water utilities and IDB staff to select the most suitable technologies.
As a result, the Takadu software company is now implementing a pilot of a water event management system, and Mekorot, Israel’s water company is working on a pre-assessment of new sources of water in Lima. In Monterrey, the Utilis technology company was selected to execute the pilot, and it will start in the coming months. In Parauapebas, Utilis has launched a pilot to detect water leakages through its satellite imaging algorithm.
During this year’s Ideas in Action Award, the IDB launched a “challenges” category for the first time to identify innovative projects that address water challenges in the region. Water utilities throughout LAC submitted challenges, of which six were selected from Colombia, Brazil, Guyana, and Argentina. The winning utilities will receive a pilot funded by the IDB. The challenges were already sent to the Israeli Innovation Authority to identify relevant technological solutions. This will be followed by a matchmaking process with both parties.
This new program demonstrates the increasing demand for new technologies in the region and ability of new technologies to support more efficient and sustainable water management. Today, as water utilities struggle with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to innovate and invest in digitalization has proven more important than ever.
*Hila Cohen Mizrav is the coordinator consultant of the IDB-Israel Collaboration: Improving Capacities in Water Resource Technologies. She previously worked at the World Bank in the Africa region on water management, irrigation and improving water utilities. She has over 10 years of experience in the environmental sector and holds a master’s degree in environmental policy and international relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.