IWA Water Development Congress and Exhibition 2017
Video credit: IWA
Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Water and Development Congress organized by the International Water Association in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was for me an opportunity to engage with scientists and practitioners from across the world particularly from South America. This was particularly important for my project because there are similar technologies for car wash wastewater recycling in South America. As a member of the Young Water Professionals of the International Water Association, I offered my support as a Rapporteur, a Table Moderator and a Panelist for the Closing Ceremony. This gave me unlimited access to renowned experts for discussion on issues of interest to me.
As a Table Moderator of the Wastewater as a Resource Forum, I engaged with a lot of experts in wastewater recycling and got to know that I can make even more profits from the sludge I generate from my treatment system. With my position as a Rapporteur, I had the opportunity to interact with all presenters for additional feedback after their presentations and from this made a lot of useful contacts for my project. My interactions with these experts gave me a deeper understanding of the challenge of wastewater management in the developing countries and how science and business can be used to address this. Listening to submissions from the likes of Goldman Sachs and experienced water professionals at the event gave me an even refreshing view of how innovative business models can be used to achieve the global target of safe water and sanitation for all. Indeed, I understood clearly that, the World Bank and other development partners cannot provide the funding to achieve universal access to water and sanitation and therefore it is time for researchers and entrepreneurs to come together to turn solutions to problems into viable business ventures.
Through my interactions with Professor Emeritus Robert Metcalf of California State University, Sacramento – an expert in Water Quality Analyses, I obtained further insight into how I can analyse my wastewater samples during treatment. Eventually, he presented to me a newly developed test kit for testing coliforms in my treated water. This was very important for my project because it was a simpler way to test for coliforms as opposed to the conventional system I was used to. From my interactions with the Head of Grants and Technical Assistance, I got to know of funding opportunities offered by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
Being part of this congress, gave me the opportunity to broaden my network, gain fresh insights into the possibilities of turning wastewater into a resource and I returned home more empowered to do more. As project owners, it is advisable that we take the opportunity to learn and share with other people through conferences that are related to our projects. Who knows, you might meet a business partner or a client.