Municipal-academic partnerships for innovation in sanitation delivery: a case study in Durban, South Africa

Service delivery for the diverse communities of eThekwini Municipality requires innovative solutions. The partnership between the Pollution Research Group (PRG) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) began informally in the 1960s and was first formalised in 2006. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the two organisations included a retainer that allowed greatly flexibility than would have been possible with project-to-project funding. This allows the PRG to act as an in-house research and development team for EWS and gives the PRG access to numerous research sites. The partnership has led to global recognition for progressive policies and innovative service delivery. It has benefited from interdisciplinary research, trust between organisations and individuals that is built on open and transparent communication, and strong leadership. EWS and the PRG are keen to support similar municipal-academic partnerships across Africa to support locally relevant applied sanitation research.