September 22, 2015 Society

Mamadou Dia Awarded for Transforming the Senegalese Water Sector

Mamadou Dia has played a key key role in transforming the water sector in Senegal to be a leader in Africa. Amongst his many notable achievements he is awarded the IWA Development Award for Practice for increasing access to water services, particularly amongst poor communities; improving the quality of water services; and contributing to the International Water Association’s work on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.

The award will be presented at the IWA Water and Development Congress (Jordan, October 18-22)

Responding to news of the award, Mamadou Dia said, “Receiving the IWA Award is for me a consecration of a 38-year career in the water sector in Senegal and Africa. It is recognition of all the efforts that have been made to prove that in Africa, despite the difficult environment, it is possible to have performing water companies that meet the expectations of customers and institutional partners.

“I share the Award with all the water stakeholders in Senegal and in Africa, with whom we have developed synergies to make progress in order to improve the rate of access and the quality of water services. This Award has a special significance because it comes from the IWA, the largest association of water professionals. I am very proud to receive it.”

A Senegalese hydraulic engineer with a 38-year track record in the African water sector, Mamadou Dia has played a key role in turning Sénégalaise Des Eaux (SDE) into a success story: first as Deputy Director General between 1996 and 2006, and then as Managing Director from 2006 to 2015.

SDE, Senegal’s major water utility, is today considered one of the best water utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is an example of an efficiently run utility, working with a solid financial base, a strong management system and effective service delivery to urban populations in Senegal. SDE has become a showcase for other African water companies, with many visiting SDE’s facilities to learn from their success.

Senegal has shown that innovation in water utilities, including private sector participation, in African countries can be a force for delivering vastly improved services, even to the poorest in society. Working with the assets holding company, SONES, SDE has developed pro-poor programs to ensure access to water. This was critical in ensuring Senegal is among the few African countries achieving the Millennium Development Goals for water, with an access rate to safe water of 98% in urban areas.

SDE plays a key role in poverty alleviation through its social connection program. Between 1996 and 2015, more than 206,000 social connections have been implement in collaboration with SONES. This has enabled more than two million largely low-income Senegalese, spread over the entire country but particularly in peri-urban areas, to be connected to a quality water supply.

During Mamadou Dia’s twenty years at SDE, the production of safe drinking water has increased by more than 70 percent to 165 million m3; water loss from leaking or burst pipes has been reduced by more than 33 percent; families and businesses connected to the water network has increased by over 260 percent; while at the same time theft of water and non-payment of bills has decreased significantly helping to secure the financial sustainability of SDE.

Innovations, such as the introduction of a ‘cockpit’ approach to consumer complaints and network maintenance, firsts in Africa, have revolutionised customer services in Senegal. This includes better technical management of the water distribution system based on new technologies such as GPRS.

Mamadou Dia and his team led SDE to became the first African water utility to be QSE certified, evidence that the utility was taking into account human and environmental protection, as well as satisfying its customers while improving its performance. Certification was awarded by AFNOR, one the world’s major certifying bodies. In 2002, it was the first Senegalese utility to be ISO 9001 certified, and the first African water utility to be certified ISO 9001-2000, both were re-certified again in 2008.

Mamadou Dia is currently President of Aquafed and Director Water and Sanitation of Group Eranove. He has devoted his entire professional career to the urban water sector in Senegal and Africa, including as President of the African Water Association (AfWA), and as a member of the Executive Committee of International Water Association. He is also President of the Senegalese Association for Standardization (ASN) since 2001.

Background to IWA Development Award

The IWA Development Award is made in recognition of an outstanding innovation or contribution to science or practice that have led to demonstrable uptake/impact/influence at national, regional or international levels in low and middle income countries.

The Award relates specifically to:

  • Water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resource management initiatives;
  • Technical and/or non-technical innovations and contributions;
  • Initiatives which have demonstrable uptake, impact or influence on practice, policy and thinking;
  • Initiatives not less than 10 years old

Categories and Award

There are two categories of award: one for Practice and one for Research.

Once selection has been confirmed, the award winners will be announced in September with awards presented to the winners during the opening Ceremony of the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition in Jordan.

Eligibility and Criteria

The award is open to an individual or representative of an organisation active in the water sector. Eligible individuals/organisations can be drawn from practice, academia/science, consultancy, equipment manufacturers, NGOs and civil society, international organizations or government.