iCOMMS Wins Annual Award for Contribution to Water and Science Technology.

A warm round of applause and big congratulations to iCOMMS for winning the annual award for the contribution to water and science technology.

The award they received was for Water Science Technology in the sector of Community Empowerment – based on their last project in the Eastern Cape where they conducted a study for the Water Research Commission (WRC).

The research by The Water and Sanitation Programme in collaboration with CoWater and iCOMMS, explored the potential of ICTs in the water and sanitation sectors in Africa more widely.

Ulrike Rivet, founder of iCOMMS and leader of the research project, says they “used quite a low-tech solution to improve communication between municipalities and communities. I am really proud of the team who did an amazing job – and it is great to see that work with communities is getting more recognized!”

The research aims at contributing to understanding our ability to engage rural communities as key stakeholders in water supply management and also provide scientific evidence for the use and usefulness of ICTs in rural community engagement in the WASH sector.

This research project speaks to the WRC outcome of “empowerment of communities” by investigating if and how ICTs can provide a new channel for communities to have a voice in local governance.

By developing a tool that can be used anonymously to report problems we would expect that communities feel more empowered to raise concerns and report faults of water supplies. This result will also have an impact on the “informing policy and decision making” outcome of the WRC since particularly policy implementation and decision making are often questioned in rural municipalities.

The team conducted research in three local municipalities namely Kouga Local Municipality, Kou-Kamma Local Municipality and Ndlambe Local Municipality, all located in the Cacadu District of the Eastern Cape.

The research is led by Prof. Ulrike Rivett from iCOMMS with Collaboration from: -

1) Prof. Derek Taylor and Dr. Nondumiso Maphazi from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

2) Prof. Jean-Paul Van Belle and Prof. Wallace Chigona from the Information System Department in University of Cape Town

3) Mr. David Schaub Jones from SeeSaw Cape Town.