EIT Climate-KIC Alumnus Elemental Water makers enables drinking water for 3,000 people in Madagascar

A community of 3,000 people in Madagascar overcome climate change by receiving clean water from the sea and sun through a sustainable Dutch initiative

The Hague, 23 October 2019 – As of today, a community in Madagascar obtains drinking water per day by the sea using only the sun by Dutch sustainable off-grid desalination technology. Madagascar is one of the least developed nations in the world, and the 3000 inhabitants of the village of Efoetsy, located on the dry south-western coast, have been struggling with increasing water scarcity over the past years. Thanks to the work of the Dutch Elemental Water Foundation, they now have daily access to 15,000 liters of affordable clean drinking water year-round using the naturally available resources of the sea and sun.

Water scarcity currently already affects 4 billion people globally. That means two-thirds of the world’s population lives in regions where water cannot be taken for granted. On the African island of Madagascar, 11 million people still lack access to safe water. The large majority of these people (85%) live in remote communities. One of these communities is Efoetsy.

The remote village of Efoetsy is located on the dry south-western coast of Madagascar and receives less than 200mm of rain per year. The 3000 people who live in and around the village live in extreme poverty and survive by farming, fishing and picking fruit and vegetables. In Efoetsy we also find the only high school in the region, providing space for 600 students. However, the lifestyle is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain by declining rainfall. In their effort to collect water, women and children had to travel hours each day for unsafe and salty water sources.

Years ago during a surf-trip in Madagascar, the Dutch engineer Sid Vollebregt experienced up-close the effects of a lack of freshwater on a local community. Inspired by the availability of the sunshine and the vastness of the surrounding ocean, Sid and his friend Reinoud Feenstra, both engineers of the The University of Technology Delft, developed technology to couple desalination technology to renewable energy such as the sun. When seawater can be converted into fresh water through the sole use of solar energy, it becomes possible to solve freshwater scarcity in remote coastal areas in a sustainable innovative way. Reinoud and Sid managed to improve the energy efficiency of the desalination process by a factor 3, to ensure the affordability of the water.

Sid & Reinoud decided to incorporate the Elemental Water Foundation, with the goal to help the people who need it most. The certified NGO, together with local partner Trans-Mad and supported by Wilde Ganzen have raised the funds required to install a solar-powered desalination system that generates 15,000 liters drinking water per day for the village of Efoetsy.

Due to Efoetsy’s isolated location, the salty groundwater in the surrounding area and the limited rainfall, solar desalination is an appropriate and sustainable solution for water scarcity reigning in the region. The sustainability of the project was not only ensured by using future proof resources of the sea and sun. The local community is involved in the operation and distribution, run together with the local NGO Trans-Mad. By distributing and selling the water for a price that matches the ability of the community, it’s ensured that value is added to the local community and that maintenance can be covered.

Today, the inhabitants of Efoetsy have a reliable, safe drinking water supply that will continue to provide for the community for years to come. Yet the 3,000 inhabitants of Efoetsy are not alone. There are several communities in the South-West of Madagascar and thousands of communities worldwide where similar solutions can make a life-changing difference. Elemental Water Foundation aims to make a change in these areas of direct need.

To donate to current and upcoming Elemental Water Foundation projects, please visit: https://www.elementalwaterfoundation.com.

Other interesting links:
https://elementalwaterfoundation.com/clean-water-for-madagascar/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7VIEtell1Y

 
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