The availability of drinking water is a major problem in many parts of the world. According to a UN report published in 2021, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the world’s population still did not have access to clean drinking water in 2020, something that threatens life and health but also drives urbanization and hinders economic development.
To help solve this problem, the Swedish company Ecobarge has chosen to make the water itself part of the solution to the problem. They place technology for water treatment, but also for energy production and energy solutions, on floating, scalable units that are placed on rivers, lakes or similar surfaces near communities that need the service.
– Having floating units that can be easily moved means that we are very mobile, which gives several advantages, explains founder Mårten Björk.
– Firstly, the permit process will be faster because you don’t have to go through all the bureaucracy that construction on land is associated with. Secondly, we become flexible and can quickly move the technology to where it is most needed right now.
Before Ecobarge deploys its units, a preliminary study is carried out, with representatives from the community where the need exists.
– Wherever you go in the world, regardless of whether it is Sweden, Tanzania or Ukraine, it is the local people who know most about their needs and challenges. That is why it is so important that we do the preliminary study together to see what needs and conditions exist at the specific location, says Mårten Björk.
In the feasibility study, they not only look at existing solutions but also at various innovation companies whose technology could fit in. The financing is also reviewed, and with inspiration from the shipping industry, a model has been found that makes it possible for the local community to get the new technology without having to borrow more than they can afford.
– Ship financing uses the ship as collateral, and we work according to the same model. In addition, we create opportunities for local ownership and employment as well as water supply. For me, it is fantastic to make a difference for so many people on so many levels.
Text: Karin Aase