At the beginning of September, some of our team – including myself and Kathryn Bergmann, our Lead Engineer – presented the Well Beyond App by Well Aware at the International Water Association‘s annual World Water Congress & Exhibition conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Getting to introduce the app, the first technology of its kind in the water industry, at this international conference brings us one step closer to increasing the longevity of successful water projects across the globe. We’re deeply grateful for the affirmation we received there on the future of our innovation in the water space, and it’s truly humbling to have been selected among other world-changing, emerging technologies to attend and present. And now we are excited to share with you what we learned at the IWA conference…
While there were many workshops to choose from, we ultimately attended the learning sessions that will most benefit the work of Well Aware. Climate change and climate crisis resiliency was a recognizable theme in many of the offerings this year. During our first session, various different water treatment types were discussed that should prove to be the most efficient while the world adapts to our changing environment. From flocculation to coagulation, various new methods of water filtration and purification could increase our potable water supply and reuse.
We also attended the African Water Association presentation where we learned that, in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goal #6 (SDG 6) – Water and Sanitation for All – by 2030, Africa will need a 40x increase in sanitation services to meet the deadline. While this seems unlikely in the next 7 years, organizations such as WASPA in Kenya are undertaking aggressive measures to try to get there. One of their key strategic moves: bringing more women into the water sector. Women are the most impacted by water scarcity and contamination in each segment of every society. We need them to have more seats at the table to represent solutions and reach these important global objectives.
Another keenly appropriate session for the work we are doing, the technical workshop on WASH and Community Scale Water Management shed light on technology transfer and adoption barriers. As we continue to deploy our app, these findings will support our deeper understanding of onboarding communities, especially now that we are able to license to other NGOs. We also got to learn about the infamous Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) training and how this “shaming” approach is proving to be ineffective in the long term. We have never considered undertaking this technique, since it is not aligned with our values, and we are pleased to see that there’s now data to discourage further implementation of CLTS.
In the same workshop, we learned more about how PPP (Public Private Partnerships) are making greater strides than Public alone. One of the main reasons we launched Well Beyond and the app was to leverage this trend and greater attention to private sector enterprise to scale more quickly. Where the public sector (specifically NGO’s) are limited by regulations and unable to swiftly innovate, private sector companies can leverage investment dollars and be bolder with new technology and methods to truly tackle the world’s greatest problems through market-based interventions.
In later sessions, we heard updates on new efficiencies in rainwater harvesting and treatments, and even more on the importance of PPP partnerships for innovation and scale in the water sector.
"An active private sector is needed for progress in improved water and sanitation facilities."
In addition to the highly educating and innovative sessions, we also met so many brilliant people at this event. One of our best meetings was with an incredible young man from Senegal who has developed a new technology to remove fluoride from water in large volumes with no power supply needed and no waste water output. Well Aware has been seeking a better way to remove fluoride from water when we sometimes see it in our deep boreholes, and this blossoming partnership could be a game changer for communities who may otherwise not have a well drilled in a high fluoride area due to the cost prohibitiveness and maintenance intricacies of treatment options currently available.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, the IWA conference is heavily focused on science and innovation for the water sector, which is a breath of fresh air. In our experience, most other water conferences don’t embody where the world should be moving in terms of water innovation. But at IWA, each and every session we attended was replete with informative data and real world results. We’re still so honored to have been invited to speak about the tool we created to further the success of water projects and to attend insightful workshops that have instilled even more hope in our team that clean water can be accessible to the world. Everyone we met is so dedicated to making this industry better. Thank you to our team members that helped us get here, to this Water Congress, and to this moment in time for our mission.
About the Well Beyond App
As the industry’s first and only mobile app for ensuring lasting water projects, the Well Beyond App by Well Aware is designed for community members to maintain and diagnose water systems, allowing them to prevent and solve issues on their own. In addition to keeping projects up and running, the new tool also aggregates valuable data on how the water systems are used, providing indicators of community-led success. It includes water system diagnostics, project reporting, maintenance checklists, real-time chat support, and so much more. While the App is currently used by partner communities we work with, this tool was created with the intent that licensing it to other NGOs will not only lengthen the life of water systems all over the globe, but the profits it generates will then go back to Well Aware to continue pushing our mission forward.