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Wayne Preece, CEO of Hydro, explains why the whole company is proud of a new partnership that will deliver safe drinking water to people living in some of the most vulnerable and impoverished situations on the planet
It’s a cruel, painful paradox that a small but densely populated country, can be flooded relentlessly yet remain persistently short of safe water. 80% of Bangladesh is floodplain and it has a vast coastal region. Every year, about a fifth of the country is sunk, displacing thousands and destroying their homes, wellbeing and dreams.
Among the many threats the region faces, increasingly common climate events including cyclones, tidal surges, and more have begun to infiltrate the local freshwater supply with numerous poisonous contaminants. As a consequence, communities dependent on clean groundwater for their health and livelihoods are struggling to access and pay for services that purify their water. And while this challenge is widely acknowledged, another element makes clean water access difficult: many of these communities are in hard-to-reach areas where investments in solutions are both high risk and high cost.
Thanks to P4G – a global group of principled and progressive leaders – Hydro Industries is now able to provide its ground-breaking water technology in collaboration with the world’s largest NGO to address this challenge in its own back yard.
BRAC, founded in Bangladesh in 1971, is a global leader in developing and implementing cost-effective, evidence-based programmes to assist people in the most marginalised situations. These include initiatives in education, healthcare, microfinance, women’s and girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights.
Multiple organisations work in the water sector in Bangladesh, but solutions often exacerbate the problem – providing the most basic of pumps to deliver groundwater that can be dangerously contaminated. Many pumps in Bangladesh are contaminated with arsenic and yet due to no or unaffordable options people are still drinking this unsafe water.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 140 million people in 50 countries are using water contaminated with arsenic.
Hydro’s solutions, pioneered and refined in a country that is blessed with seemingly endless access to this most precious of natural resources, will enable BRAC to apply their proven delivery models to stimulate and utilise local private businesses and micro-entrepreneurs to move the clean water to households in need. This system will create new ways of delivering safe drinking water at high volumes and affordable prices ensuring that people in marginalised situations can enjoy what most of us take for granted.
Our technology has proved its worth in challenging situations across India, the middle-east and closer to home. Passing an electric current through contaminated water allows us to isolate the impurities and filter them off effectively so that the water emerging from the tap meets the highest possible standards demanded by the World Health Organisation. Now it can add significant capacity to aid agencies across the globe, removing their dependence on poor quality, inferior and potentially unsafe technologies and solutions.
We believe that the most vulnerable, migrants, refugees and the poorest have the right to enjoy safe water, and it is through such technologies that we can lift these standards and make the WHO standard a global gold standard of quality that every responsible government, multilateral or INGO insist upon.
In collaboration with BRAC we are busy doing the groundwork so we can deploy our technology next spring and, working with local communities and municipalities, find new ways to deliver safe water to all households, no matter the social and economic capacity. In the first phase 25,000 people will benefit whilst learning from this phase will inform our transition to scale with the potential to reach millions across Bangladesh and other areas in India and Nepal with severely contaminated water sources.
We really believe this partnership will show its potential – not only in Bangladesh but for any community desperate for this crucial natural resource.
Wayne Preece is the Chief Executive Officer of Hydro Industries