Mehdi Hadj-Abed will introduce the EaumOb at SIGEF 2014 and will participate to the “Call for Projects.” Hadj-Abed is a Horyou Personality. He tells us here* about his commitment to equal and universal access to drinking water.
Interview conducted by Sarah Lemaire and translated by Lola Gazounaud for Horyou’s blog
Hi Mehdi. Could you give us a few words to introduce yourself?
I am the manager and founder of EauNergie company, whose aim is to help populations that have trouble accessing a water supply. In order to do that, I develop innovative solutions to bring water to them without polluting the environment, using green energy as much as possible and equipment that is more versatile.
What innovative solutions have you worked on so far?
I have worked on the desalination of seawater using solar energy. This way, the equipment is much more mobile. I have also developed solutions for the desalination of remote places or places along the coast that could become eco-touristic. There will be as many solutions as there are kinds of water. I can treat seawater and polluted river water, as well as bring a solution to water discharge. That means once we use that water and pollute it, we can treat it and use it again for irrigation, farming or something else. In terms of innovation, we created the SeamOb, which is mobile water desalination equipment using sustainable energy, and the EaumOb for river water treatment, which I am very proud of.
And for those who don’t know anything about desalination, how is this innovative? Didn’t these solutions already exist?
These solutions do already exist, but what makes it innovative is that we integrate all these technologies together into one solution. It takes dirty water, treats it and distributes it without the need of having an external supply of energy, because it is provided by sustainable energy only. This makes it completely automatic. And we are getting closer to what I wanted: a water supply producer. We integrate all the existing technologies to help these populations in an ethical and, above all, ecological way – like if we have created a new water spring. And the EaumOb can be built anywhere on the planet.
What other projects you would like to tell us about?
I worked in Mauritania for a dispensary that we fully equiped. It was located in a small fisherman village on the Banc d’Arquin where there was only access to seawater. We built a desalination unit that was powered by photovoltaic solar panels. It brings enough energy to provide the population with a fridge to store vaccines and lighting for them to have a comfortable place to live in. Can you imagine having to deliver a baby at the light of candles or waiting for the police station to have access to vaccines? Because that was the only place where there was a fridge, as they used to do. So it makes life simpler for populations. We recycle toilet water as well. As the dispensary’s toilets were located close to the school, we engaged with young people from these villages, developing awareness toward ecology and water recycling. Another example: In Morocco, we set up a solar pumping solution. We provided 25,000 liters of water per hour. The pump works as soon as the sun illuminates the solar station. This equipment was funded by the International Cooperation of Monaco and given to a small charity located in the deep South of Morocco, toward Tata. Before this, they used to run a Renault 21 car engine with gas. It used to cost 12,000 per year including maintenance. This is what you need to run an engine from the ’80s. For the installation of the solar pumping system, we needed around 40,000 euros, the equivalent of four years of water production, paying for gas and maintenance. But our system does not pollute and it will work for the next 20 years and let’s hope forever. They do not need any energy to make the pump work. We set up the equipment in a way that they can easily take the pump out for maintenance and put it back into water. It is a perennial system.
On your Horyou profile, you shared an article about the situation of a village in South Africa. What did you feel when you read this article? What did you decide to do?
I was angry and frustrated because I have a EaumOb at the studio that was created to avoid these kinds of disasters. And I decided to do all I could to send one there.
What can we do if we want to help the realization of this project?
I need help in funding and logistics to be able to send this machine successfully. The estimated cost is 10,000 euros. In the long term, I want to create a local assembly studio.
It appears you have a special link with water. What does water represent for you?
As a kid, I grew up in a fisherman village. My house was located between the orchards and the sea, and we had a lot of drinking water supplies. Nevertheless, there was a difference between the water we used for drinking and the water we used for cleaning, irrigation, etc. I have always known that drinking water was much more valuable than domestic water. Water is life! Even when we send a sensor into space, the first think we look for is water. Without water, there is no life. I quickly understood that our ways of living are very far from the true value of water.
You give a lot to people through your commitment to bring them water. What do you receive in return?
When your project is over and you see people using water, you feel good. For example, we rented a machine to Monaco Sailing School. The children’s parents told me that kids were fighting against water waste at home. No more bath, no more playing with taps! I remember well kids lecturing their parents about baths. What I am most proud of is to know that some newborn child have been given my name, Mehdi, after I set up the water equipment in the dispensary in Mauritania. So you are so proud, so happy. Even if the worst scenario happens and you have to shut down your company, well, you’ve done your job! And you know that these women will be able to deliver their babies in better conditions. When I’ll go back I might meet those kids.
Would you like to say a last word to our readers?
Water is as vital as air, it is more than food. The volume of water has not decreased or increased since the creation of the Earth. But we have. There are people that are dying of thirst while we clean our streets with drinking water. What do you do to make things change?