Water and Energy marked as the theme of World Water Day 2014
This year, on World Water Day which is held annually on 22 March, the concept of ‘water and energy’ was elaborated upon.
New Horizons - The concept of ‘water and energy’ can conjure up thoughts of large cooling towers in power stations and the hefty power needs of industrial-scale water-treatment plants.
But on a much smaller scale, within communities, water and energy also go hand in hand – as is happening in the community water projects of ‘Every Drop Matters’, an innovative partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Coca-Cola Company.
“Solar power is a hugely promising option for pumping clean water from depth in rural areas, where it is too expensive to install mains systems, or where grid power supplies are unreliable” says Dr Andrew Hudson, Head of the UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme.
He also adds that “This option is also more sustainable – not just environmentally, but because communities have control over it, which helps build their ownership of the system.”
UN agencies are keen to tackle inequalities in water and energy supplies, especially for the ‘bottom billion’ who survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, food and fuel because they live in impoverished rural areas or in slums.
But there are tried-and-tested options available: “We’ve shown in Every Drop Matters projects in Bangladesh that small-scale solutions like rainwater harvesting and decentralised wastewater treatment systems can really work for people in the slums of the capital city Dhaka” says Every Drop Matters Global Programme Manager Bogachan Benli.
The projects in the Baunibad slum area are installing rainwater-collection systems on school roofs, which rely on gravity, not electric pumps, to take the water to the schools’ new drinking-water taps.
The area’s sewer system only served a quarter of the residents, so the small wastewater treatment facilities were much-needed, fitted well in the densely populated neighbourhoods, and have made a big difference in reducing the pollution of local ponds.
The treatment systems also have airtight ‘bio-digesters’ which produce biogas that local people can use as fuel.
“The interesting thing here is that communities have set up bio-digester management committees, and they have already raised around USD 3000 to keep the new systems maintained” said Benli.
In addition, community lectures, public events and social media reached more than 10,000 other people.
“These projects have been very successful in reaching many thousands of people with messages on saving water, which exactly aligns with The Coca-Cola Company’s mission to encourage the responsible use of water” said Dr Kadri Ozen, Public Affairs Director, Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa Group.