AQGRI+ uses wastewater as a resource. In AQGRI+ station, a unique integration of simplified and proven technologies is applied to use domestic wastewater to produce three-valuable products; nutrient-rich irrigation water, high quality compost, and fish. These products are offered to agri-businesses (e.g. coffee plantation owners) and recreation businesses (e.g. public parks, golf courses), and local fish markets. At the same time, we are offering municipalities an integrated and affordable solution where the wastewater is treated and re-used supported by market forces and with the goal of creating local employment and positively contribute to a better sanitation state of the area where AQGRI+ operates. This approach aims to be applied locally (i.e. decentralized) with the use of simple and low cost wastewater treatment technologies to allow replicability and scalability, while offering economic and innovative solutions for wastewater recycling.
1. What drives you to work on climate adaptation?
Water sector is the sector that both of us are highly active in. Both Jelmer and I have been involved in water management in agriculture, where we realize that water is used awfully inefficient by the sector.
Having known that agriculture is one of the largest water-consuming sectors, I did my research project on the feasibility of wastewater reuse as climate adaptation measure for agriculture sector in Mekong Delta of Vietnam, one of the world’s most prone regions to climate change. There I identified so much potential for using existing water resource (i.e. wastewater) for irrigation water. Yet one of the main barriers is that there is not yet financial incentive/attraction imposed in the system to encourage people to implement the scheme. Similarly, Jelmer did his research project on the water demand of irrigated areas in Myanmar, and found that scarcity and reliability issues around water supply for irrigation are pressing problems, which are likely to aggravate under the projected climatic change.
People think of water as something sacred and valuable that “should” be free. However in reality, water is a valuable resource that gets scarcer both in terms of quantity and quality and therefore economics have to play a role in it. Further intensified by climate change, it is no longer the time where people (including households, water managers, regulators) could treat water as if they are still in the age of abundance.
This is mainly what drives us to develop a water-business with impact (AQGRI+) that addresses water scarcity along with sanitation via a market-driven approach.
2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years with this project?
We have already set a 5-year-plan which is to create 15-20 AQGRI+ stations in our targeted country (market), which is currently Vietnam. By that time, AQGRI+ would like to be the forefront in the concept of putting value for treated wastewater to fill in the gap in the market (e.g. agriculture) that demands reliable water supply in terms of quantity and quality.
3. What will you do when you win in September?
By September, we would already have established and maintained contact with some key stakeholders in Vietnam. Suppose if we win in September, we would like to go to the field to meet directly face-to-face with potential customers or partners to have a more solid relationship and securer steps in the development of the business.
4. Where do you perceive is the biggest challenge with respect to global climate adaptation?
Government (or water managers and regulators) does not prioritize enough to support incentives towards climate adaptation, even in developed countries. Inappropriate pricing for water, for example pricing for domestic water only covers delivery service, not the price of water as a scarce resource, which makes water becomes so cheap and leading to inefficient use of it even in the times of scarcity. Government and water managers/regulators are still used to the idea of water as abundant resource.