Three years ago Enigma Alliance began an ambitious project. The brief was to build a safe and secure accommodation camp for humanitarian and development staff in Mogadishu within the Mogadishu International Airport Zone. Infrastructure was minimal and aside from accommodation, quality clean water was going to be an essential consideration. Fast forward to today and Chelsea Village is complete and includes water security for our 150 guests and staff. The camp has its own potable water to World Health Organisation standards thanks to the WaterCap containerised Reverse Osmosis treatment system and desalination plant.
The Road To Clean Water
Ensuring clean water for Chelsea Village had challenges, as was to be expected. The first task was to secure a water source: from initial assessments, our operation was situated on a fresh water aquifer 50m deep. A water analysis was required to lay the foundations for what was required from our WaterCap treatment plant and how this would service Chelsea Village’s water needs.
There is no ‘one shoe fits all’ solution when it comes to water
My vision was to have World Health Organisation drinking water from every tap in Chelsea Village, including our guests’ rooms. This would also dramatically reduce plastic waste from bottled water and remove the stigma that tap water is not fit for purpose in Somalia.
Research & Development
We secured the borehole and ran the water to ensure we had a stable set of water analysis results. With no lab in Mogadishu, we dispatched our water to a controlled environment, delivering to a certified approved water laboratory for water analysis.
Our water engineer then created a design specific for our water needs. Having spent 20 years in the deserts of the Middle East during my military career and also coming short without water a few times, water storage was a key consideration for this WaterCap build. The water treatment plant would be encapsulated in a 40ft shipping container including water storage tanks. This could function as a single standalone unit or multiple units, dependent on water demand, to ensure rapid connectivity and productivity.
12 weeks later we had our first ever mobile plug and play water treatment plant built and delivered to Mogadishu.
The plant can be remotely monitored from our HQ in Europe, allowing real time data across the Internet to be monitored ensuring complete efficiency in all that we do. Coupled with that we can control and operate the plant remotely reducing the need for multiple engineers. We were prepepared for the ever-changing water quality as the plant was designed with the latest energy recovery pumps and pre post filtration, ensuring complete water compliance.
- Water data and water technologies are key to getting it right the first time.
- One shoe does not fit all and its key to monitor the water your pulling out at different times
- Water reuse is key to water aquifer management.
The Ripple Effect of Training
Since we first broke ground at Chelsea Village in 2015, Somalia has moved forward at a rapid rate, both politically and commercially. Whilst still battling against extremism and Al Shabaab the Somali people can be commended on their resilience to push forward with change and their hunger to learn new skills.
We set out from the start to ensure a balanced team and 50% of our staff at Chelsea Village are Somali. They came with little English or education but we wanted to offer opportunities to this young and energised team.
Our vision when we started this project was to give back and train the local Somalis and incorporate them in our operation. From Hospitality through to Construction and Facilities Management, our operation is a 50/50 split of local and international. We want to tackle the skills gap for a better future for our team
The Value of Water
Around the world we are realizing the value of water. Somalia has a real chance to get its water management right the first time and ensure jobs, sustainability and health for future generations.
The education of the next generation of water engineers is key to the water management of the country. Water frameworks and water monitoring policies are crucial for the health and wealth of Somalia. A start point now for the donors and the international community is to train the local communities and the future generations in water analysis, water monitoring as well as the empowerment of women in water and communities to safe guard their precious aquifers and water resources.
Somalia is still in transition, however, the setup of water schools across the region with accredited universities and training will protect this rare commodity. I would like WaterCap to be part of that future: we are ready to assist with water-related issues in austere environments. With our newly installed remotely monitored desalination plant and the success of our water operations, we are now poised for the next chapter to bring water, training and support to a country struggling with this most valuable resource. In Somalia, 4.3 million people live without access to clean, safe water; seven out of 10 people do not have enough water to meet their basic needs.
2018 has been a year of unpredictability, with regions previously water secure facing dramatic shortages – as seen in Cape Town a city that almost reached Day Zero with the turning off of the taps and is still struggling with water restrictions. In the UK we witnessed one of the hottest summers on record ruining crops and increasing food prices. We see extremes of hurricanes, flash flooding and extreme drought globally.
Water has ranked in the top five risks for seven consecutive years in the Global Risk Report. Water Insecurity will continue to cause effects across the varying spheres of industry and agriculture and will strain geopolitical ties, furthering pressure on the poorest nations.
To tackle these issues requires a collective collaboration of Innovation, Technology, Data solutions and water brought to the top of the global agenda. Water, its value and impact, needs to be looked at from a Policy, Governmental and financial perspective to change this perceived view that water is a given.
We have to remove stigma, share technology – supported with training and education – and look at how with every drop drawn there needs to be every drop reused. WaterCap’s ethos and drive is to bring water-based solutions to global water problems and to ensure that education, training and longevity is sustainable. We will leave a water legacy.