The perfect final point of a 5 months travel, meeting with WateROAM

Last meeting of Adaqua abroad. We succeeded in finding the perfect meeting to finish the trip. A promising start-up which produces water filter (which symbolizes the technical side of our project) to give to the population a sustainable water supply (the big goal of our study!)

So we go to see WateROAM at the National University of Singapore. Welcome to the start-up heaven: The Factory, huge open-space with pure design, with young entrepreneurs who eat, discuss and write on brain storming board and invent the products of tomorrow; Among all this agitation, Lim Chong Tee welcomes us with a big smile.

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Membranes story…

As the french song says ” des petits trous, des petits trous, toujours des petits trous” ( “little holes, little holes, always little holes”. Membranes,filters and other components with holes play a crucial role in water treatment to achieve water purification and decontamination.

We saw it in Israel in the desalination plant of Ashkelon with big rolls of filters, we saw it in India to clean the water. So, membranes are everywhere et we had to see the last innovations in this field before leaving Singapore. We look for something, we look for something else and then: a word draws our attention “biomimetic” on the website of Aquaporin, a company which develops and produces innovation water treatment membranes: a common subject began immediately very interesting.


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2 pm, a day of august as usual, dying under the Singaporean sun, roaming in some residential areas, we don’t really know what we are looking for … We heard about this eco resort in Indonesia with an interesting way of treating the waste water. But in reality we don’t really know what we can wait for, we just threw a bottle in the sea and we finally had an answer, and a proposition for a meeting: so here we are!

We are not disappointed, meeting Marc in his garden, between a crazy scientist and a businessman, the character worth the visit. Loola it’s not only an eco resort, it’s also a fantastic experimentation field for sustainable technologies and as Marc Van Loo is unstoppable, it also became a social experiment over the years.

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First meeting in Singapore : Ecosoftt

After lot of adventures and a very long night between Chennai and Singapore in transit in Colombo airport, but still a too short night to get ready for such a culture shock. After a crazy journey, we finally arrive in front of this strange little building, 3 floors grey with huge mysterious doors and long corridors. We don’t really know if we are in a crazy scientist lab or in a bank safe. Reality is something else: here is a great heap of Singaporean start-up.

#03-10 : floor 3, mysterious door number 10, welcome to Ecosoftt.


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Pierre Emmanuel and Lea vs the reality


The African Saga had begun between 4 slidedowns and big rains. We have succeeded in arriving at Gessa Chare in the Dawro. Don’t try to google it, we tried and no one knew this area.
We had been visiting the InterAide projects in the woreda (district) of Loma to ask to the water point beneficiaries and to the people who don’t have access to drinking water. We had the hope to get a fabulous data base which could represent with an incomparable limpidity of all the positive spillovers of getting water.

The fact is that reality is more complex. First problem, Amharic is not our maternal language such as the local dialects and the English is not the maternal language of our two fantastic translators and of us. At the end, if the social study herself is complex when you focus on the methodology and the sampling, you have multiplied difficulties. So, when we have asked the question for the third time to be understood by our own translator, the questions that we have studied to be very fine lost their qualities. Moreover, some question become ridiculous when you sit down in the mud between one goat and one chicken, covered of flies trying to count the number of children living in 40m².


Nevertheless, we thought that we had some experience with Madagascar where we have already done a social study. But we always forget that in our daily life, we have just to push the button to get light, we don’t have to make a fire to cook, that we have no idea of the color of the cow we eat et that the main question each morning is to know if these socks is really the ones which go well with my coat. The first interview suffices to show us the priorities and to pull down us in reality.
Second problem which is not negligible, the logistic and the human management. In Ethiopia, lunch is holy and we must take it between 12 am and to 2 pm. Before, it is too early, after it becomes a real problem. The first day was a little bit complicated because our translator’s stomaches were empty… Moreover, we don’t foresee that there is not real village but only some houses spread in the mountains. And so, the transition between two interviews become quickly a 30 min treck. Thanks to the random sampling! We succeeded in doing all the interviews thanks to biscuits, anti-mosquitos shared with our translators.
Those two translators shaped an heteroclite pair. One has Marge Simpson haircut , the Elvis Presley personlaity and a moto with a big pancarte “ don’t worry, be happy”. The second one looks like Stromae with the personality of Melmane in the cartoon Madagascar with a strange tic: he says “yes” at the place of “sorry, I don’t understand you . Can you repeat please?”. The two translators are escorted by two drivers who love a new kind of music for us: the Ethiopian orthodox music.
The reward of all those adventures is an incredible panorama with high plateau falling in plains, like Sugarloaf mountains which drip in the river meanders and in the inset forest which circles little cob house.
Brief, Pierre Emmanuel & Lea go from one kebele to another in the woreda of Loma by motor bikes, without helmet on track with Jonnhy B. Good and Melmane, eating injeras and trying to apply random conditions to the hazard of field.



Arava Institute or How bringing water can participate to bring peace?

The bus let us in the middle of nowhere, in the desert. Jordan is very close, few meters on our right, with its high mountains covered of orange sand and blood red slides. On our left, Kibboutz Ketura. This is our first time in a Kibboutz and inevitably the legend is present. We don’t really know what we must expect «  What are we supposed to ask her ? Hum, I don’t know. We ask her to tell us, don’t we ? »
Meeting with Shira Kronich, Vice Director of the center for transboundary Water Management. She begins to describe quickly its point of view about the water situation in Israel : Actually, Israel is a country with poor water resources but with very strong technical solutions. Her feeling is ambiguous, we saw her hesitates, she oscillates between pride and a bit of guilt, or at least, the feeling that the situation is not as beautiful as it seems. And so, Palestinian problem is evoked with the unfair water dispatching and the predominant place of water in the conflict. And finally, is it very important that Israël is a world leader in water if on the other side of the ckeckpoint, in West Bank, 70% of the population don’t collect neither treat its wastewater. Because rivers and aquifers do not respect boundaries!



And so, in the Arava Institute, we think very differently the resources management: the right scale for them is the community scale… No more State, no more boundaries: all of that is superfluous when you talk about resources management. And if politicians can’t speak, at another scale, we have to succeed, we must get together technicians, scientists from both sides to share, exchange, think together and go ahead. In this idea Arava Institute welcome 1/3 of Palestinians, 1/3 of Israeli and 1/3 of international people. All the students live in the kibboutz, have classes of peace building and non-violent communication between two classes of environmental policy and waste water treatment and they finally learn to build the future world considering the other. A bubble in the desert and in Israël.
According to Shira, the first step is the wastewater treatment. Like this began a program in West Bank: build a lowtech system, which can be adaptable at different scales and is sustainable, treating off-grid communities waste water. Actually, the system is used in five households in West Bank.
The system is composed of some boxes filled of gravels and where grow papyrus. Thanks to gravity, wastewater, coming from the first box, goes to the next one, passing through gravels. It acts like filters and are a support for the development of bacteria which feed themselves and transform organic materials from black and grey water. Number of boxes used depend on the number of persons concerned and of the concentration of the effluent. When the water leaves the system, it ready to use for agriculture. This off grid solution is so well adapted to the West Bank context, which is most of the time remote rural household with little garden for agriculture.



Water treatment could reduce the water consumption up to 40%, it leads to a reduce of the water bill and increase the resilience and food security of the community.

Today this program is financed by USAID and families who profit of it do not pay for anything.

A new program still for off-grid communities is starting in Gaza with an energetic component added to food and water components. The basic idea is that resources management plays an important part in the israeli-palestinian conflict.