Introducing: Silas Mvulirwenande

Postdoctoral Researcher at VIA Water


My name is Silas Mvulirwenande, from Rwanda. I hold an MSc in Urban Environmental Management (Wageningen University) and a Doctorate degree in Water Management (Delft University of Technology), with a focus on knowledge management and capacity development for water utilities. Since February 2017, I work as a Postdoctoral researcher in the Integrated Water Systems and Governance Department at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands. Prior to that, I worked for the International Water Association – IWA Africa office. My research interests include water innovation for development, learning organisations, water utility reforms, knowledge management in water utilities, institutional capacity strengthening, and capacity development impact evaluation.

At IHE Delft, I do research on (social) water innovations in Africa, using the VIA Water Programme as a case. The research is conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA) which is part of the strategic alliance between Delft University of Technology, Leiden University, and the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The overall aim is to analyse the determinants of (social) water innovation processes in African cities.

The research draws on social sciences both theoretically and methodologically. We follow the qualitative case study approach, with a multi-method strategy. That is, we will combine online surveys with in-depth analysis of selected cases. The conceptualization stage of the study is almost completed now, and we plan to implement the empirical research stage in the next months. I am eager to discuss water innovation issues in the context of African cities, with a variety of stakeholders including, inter alia, innovators themselves, customers or users of water innovations, policy makers, academia, and development specialists. The success of this research banks on your usual support and cooperation.  

The results of this study will be presented and discussed at international conferences in Africa, Europe and beyond and in stakeholder meetings with interested parties. We aim to publish a couple of scientific papers in peer reviewed journals to boot.

I am passionate about water innovation studies because, in my view, the future of the water sector lies in innovation. Not just in Africa, but in other continents as well. Due to the increasing complexity of water issues (and associated global challenges) and dwindling of resources, conventional approaches to water management are no longer reliable – and sometimes not desirable. New ways of doing things – i.e., innovation – are indeed more needed today than ever. A lot is already happening, but many water innovations remain under the radar, particularly in developing countries. Therefore, it is salient to understand - and communicate about - the dynamics of water-related innovations if they are to be effectively fostered and diffused to benefit more people on a lasting basis.

Attached below you can find Silas' research design and work plan for more information.