Dr. Armando Quazzo, Head of the Development & Marketing Department of SMAT, answered our questions on the commitment of SMAT for development cooperation.
SMAT has always been very sensitive to all the international initiatives promoted by the territory and it often acted as the “technical arm” of the local institutions aiming to develop international initiatives in different countries. This close involvement has always been regarded as an important feature of the company as it allows a direct interchange with different realities which is the real trigger for improvement for all involved stakeholders.
The experience of SMAT in this regard can certainly be a great help, as the solution of problems connected to water distribution, as well as with collection and treatment of solid waste, is a complex challenge that requires merging components from technical, administrative, maintenance and regulatory resources. The exchange with a public utility characterized by a vertical structure for managing all these aspects allows a comparison and the application of best practices that can be replicated in different contexts.
I am unable to answer with certainty whether the activity developed by SMAT through Hydroaid have accomplished the goal of enhancing the international standing of the territory. However I know that this cooperation did raise the awareness and the capacity of the local stakeholders in presenting themselves in the international scenario. I personally believe this is already a great result for the operators of a traditionally closed field.
The clear challenge here is matching infrastructure plans adequate to the needs of the countries with tariffs that are sustainable for the population. As the water service is a vital one, as all essential services it is important that it is offered at a sustainable cost. This is the great challenge that urban planning and economic regulation will have to deal with in order to obtain the right balance allowing the provision of services in line with the expectations of citizens and industries, as well as supported by the contributive capacities of the users.