by Anna Itkonen

SkyJuice Foundation was incorporated in Sydney in 2005 as a not for profit, charitable organisation. SkyJuice is a not-for-profit organisation that assists with the provision of potable water solutions to developing communities and countries with the view to provide immediate access to safe water. Their core competence is the world’s best low-pressure membrane technology to produce safe, sustainable water filtration systems that are affordable and purpose appropriate.

We organised a Q and A session with Rhett to talk about the last 20 years of SkyJuice as well as the future of the foundation and this is the second part of our conversation with Rhett. If you haven’t already read Part 1, you can do so here.

Q. In your experience, what have been the biggest challenges for any not-for-profit organisation and especially delivering low cost water solutions worldwide? How has SkyJuice addressed and overcome these challenges?

Unfortunately, we see that many organisations in the water space still do not share information and do somewhat re-invent the wheel. These are all of course, well intentioned, but efficiency is critical when you have limited resources. I would steer those seeking to learn by experience to players such as ROTARY and ROTARY WASH, who are great facilitators.

It is important to focus on a clear strategy and project objective. Sometimes partners underestimate the peripheral costs and associated equipment needed to provide a viable “solution”.

We have directly undertaken and assisted on many projects over the past 20 years. Certainly, there are common pitfalls that always surface. SkyJuice has listed the “do’s and do not’s” on our website and I suggest people use this as a resource.

Most importantly, we see the way forward is best executed via empowered and capable partner organisations that have specific expertise. This would normally via geographic location, resources and/or local political/social connectivity.

Q. Can you share any particular success factors? Something that stands out from the past 20 years.

 Yes, some certainly come to mind.

Firstly, to completely understand the water that is to be treated; who will use it and who will control it. It is important to take considerable time to understand the local dynamic and social interactions, i.e. why has this not been done before and frankly, where is the “skin in the game” for the community.

Secondly, make sure the project has long term sustainable funding plan, not just the immediate horizon.

Thirdly, repeatability. Yes, do not design a bespoke tailored solution, but instead use a proven design or delivery model which is solution tested, validated and established by others.

Fourthly, make sure you have all funds in place before you start the project and most importantly, a sustainable “whole of life” cashflow and maintenance regime.

Lastly, ask lots of questions from the “get go” and preferably ones that do not simply require “yes” as an answer.    

Q. What roles do partnerships play in delivering safe water systems? How does SkyJuice Foundation benefit from working in partnership with other organisations?

I strongly support collaborative solutions and partnerships where several parties bring specific skillsets and learnings to achieve an optimal solution. Be suspicious of “silo organisations” that are not open to dialogue, open thinking or shared ideas.

Our partners are fundamental to our success and strategic and critical thinking. Sometimes they are simply clients and more than often they have valuable knowledge, suggestions and networking experience to share.

Q. What is next for SkyJuice and its water filtration technology?

Well Anna, that is a very timely question. SkyJuice has a really exciting announcement to make in the coming months. We will be releasing our ultra-low-cost desalination solution into to MSG sector. It is a truly hybrid solution that will radically reduce the cost of desalinated water for communities with brackish water sources. The capacity should be 3000 – 5000 litres per day. As usual, we will roll it out with one of our established partners. We also expect to have a global CR partner on board, but let’s get the ducks lined up first.

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