Malena Galmarini is president of water utility AySA, serving 14 million people in Bueno Aires. She discusses the need for innovation in the public sector
Reactivating paralysed infrastructure projects
Malena Galmarini is not into nicknames or slogans. Instead, she says she is more focused on solving problems and finding “solutions to transform lives”.
As the president of one of the top five largest water utilities in the world, Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos (AySA), she certainly had to find solutions quickly when she started.
Joining as the first female president of AySA in 2019, the organisation – serving 14 million people in the Argentina capital city, Bueno Aires – was suffering from hundreds of “paralysed” infrastructure works.
Since then, Galmarini has worked tirelessly under the premise that access to water and sanitation remains a basic right.
“With a great budgetary effort from the National Government and a great commitment from AySA workers, we were able to reactivate the paralysed projects in a very short time,” she says.
Today, AySA has over 320 works in progress, all framed under the organisation’s Master Plan.
Speaking to Aquatech Online, she added: “In addition, we were able to give a greater boost to large-scale infrastructure works such as the Riachuelo and Agua Sur systems, unique for their design and dimension in Latin America.
“We will not stop until all Argentine women and men have equal conditions and access to these essential services”
“We will not stop until all Argentine women and men have equal conditions and access to these essential services.”
Launching an innovation hub
AySA’s concession area involves the City of Buenos Aires and 26 suburban municipalities.
Despite Galmarini’s optimism and drive, she remains aware of the challenges ahead, including reaching financial sustainability.
The water utility recently launched “Enlace AySA”, an innovation hub which Galmarini says was “created from the need to prepare for a world that is transforming at an unprecedented speed”.
“Enlace AySA was born as an idea when we assumed the commitment to bring water and sanitation to every corner of our area of responsibility, and we have been able to achieve it in record time,” she adds.
Enlace launched in partnership with the Latin American Association of Water and Sanitation, better known as ALOAS.
The president admits that “innovation hubs have become a global trend” and that “AySA does not pretend to be the first”.
However, she says it is part of an objective to bring Latin American, Hispanic and Portuguese-speaking innovation to the world.
“With more than two billion people in the world suffering from a shortage of this essential element for life, the best thing that could happen to us as a species is that spaces for innovation related to water proliferate in every corner of the planet.”
When asked how important it is for a public water utility to be considered innovative, Galmarini says the priority is to be recognised “as a company that brought water and sewage services to every house in Argentina, while generating export value for Argentina, Latin America and the entire world”.