UNDPKH Solar Energy Water Pump

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Water Research Commission (WRC) of South Africa requests applications from local innovators developing technologies/solutions addressing South Africa’s water challenges, particularly those which have been exacerbated or introduced during the COVID 19 pandemic.

As South Africa, like the rest of the world, implements various interventions to manage the spread of COVID 19, many remain unable to protect themselves through good hygiene practices. This is mostly due to a lack of basic water services, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. Many rural schools, for example, are unable to reopen due to their inability to meet basic safety requirements, such as the provision of water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.  

The UNDP and WRC aim to fast track the development and promote the adoption of promising innovations in the water sector through this programme. The objective is to accelerate the rate at which we achieve progress on SDG 6, and address South Africa’s pressing water needs. This call is specifically for innovative solutions and not conventional and established technologies.

The programme will provide the following support:

  • Assist in evaluating the market need/problem the innovation addresses.
  • Assist in assessing the innovation against competing products/solutions and ways in which communities/businesses may already be addressing the gap/problem.
  • Assist in validating the prototype/proof of concept/technology demonstrator to ensure the innovation claims hold true and can positively address targeted needs. This may include laboratory testing, field testing, user testing, etc.
  • Assist the innovator in accessing partners who can support the growth and scaling of the innovation.

Successful innovations will also be grouped to create a portfolio of solutions, which, when positioned at various intervention points within the system, can together address key water challenges.  

The following criteria will be used to select the innovators to be supported:

  • Innovations must address South Africa’s key water challenges and intervention strategy as outlined in the National Water Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap. The RDI Roadmap can be found on the WRC website (www.wrc.org.za, Resources and Tools Tab Knowledge Hub link-search using keywords “National RDI Roadmap” or Report No. 2305/01/15)
  • Innovations must at least be at the stage of proof of concept, prototype/technology demonstrator and at pre-commercialisation within the product development lifecycle.
  • Innovations must address those water challenges exacerbated or introduced during the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Innovations must have been developed and produced in South Africa, preferably using local components and materials where possible.
  • Applicants should demonstrate the underlying scientific principles behind the technology and provide the rationale supporting design features. This may include diagrams and photos.
  • Applicants must demonstrate the level of readiness for operation, target location (rural, peri-urban and/or urban), and detail any previous demonstrations/implementations. Details such as the number of units installed, performance metrics, location, scale, partners, performance outputs, etc., must be included.
  • Applicants must also indicate fabrication and implementation costs, as well as operation and maintenance requirements.
  • Applicants previously supported by the WRC and/or the UNDP may be considered for this programme, depending on their needs.
  • Innovators must be South African citizens.

As the programme will require considerable amount of time and engagement, innovators/developers must be available throughout the duration of the programme to participate in the various activities. Most promising applications will also be considered for funding support to assist in growing their innovation. Applications from grassroot innovators, and for innovations developed outside laboratory/technical settings are welcome.

To apply, please complete the attached Expression of Interest (EOI) form.

Applications must include in a separate word document, a brief motivation on why they should be considered for the programme, contact information, and evidence supporting the selection criteria highlighted in this call (maximum 2 pages/1000 words).

The deadline for submitting the EOI in PDF format is close of business on Thursday, 3 September 2020. No late applications will be considered. The Completed EOI in PDF format should be emailed to Dr Manjusha Sunil on manjushas@wrc.org.za AND Ms Klariska Moodley on acceleratorlabs.za@undp.org.

Any queries can be addressed to Dr Manjusha Sunil (WRC) or Ms Klariska Moodley (UNDP)



Please note that preference will be given to applicants from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, women, youth, persons living with disability and businesses that comply with the norms and standards of business practices in the Republic of South Africa. 

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