Water scarcity solutions to be awarded with $1 million

19 Jan 2017
  • Water scarcity solutions to be awarded with $1 million

Abu Dhabi - Gulf News

Within the next two months, $1 million (Dh3.67 million) will be handed out to three projects that provide innovative and cost-effective solutions to combating water poverty around the world, a top official said in the capital on Wedneday.


The first edition of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Awards will be given out for innovation among youth, organisation and among commercial entities, Mohammad Al Shamsi, acting executive director of the UAE Water Aid Foundation (Suqia), told Gulf News. Suqia is in charge of administering the awards.


“According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated one out of five people worldwide still don’t have access to clean drinking water, and about 502,000 people die each year from diarrhoea brought about by drinking contaminated water. This is why combating water poverty is so very important, and it is why we are looking for sustainable, solar-powered solutions,” Al Shamsi said.


He was speaking on the sidelines of the International Water Summit, a conference held as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017 to address challenges in global water supply.


The seeds of the Suqia were first laid by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in Ramadan 2014. He announced a personal donation to an initiative that would provide clean water to five million needy people. The target was later raised to seven million people after a whopping $180 million (Dh661 million) was raised by UAE residents over an 18-day period.


Suqia was then created in 2015 to manage the efforts, and through it, 3.5 million people in 20 countries, including Mauritania, Mali, Tanzania and Bangladesh, have already received water aid. The remaining funds are also being allocated to communities with the greatest need.


The upcoming water awards are a further step towards resolving water scarcity, and this first round has received 137 applications from around the world. Al Shamsi said the foundation will carefully select the winning projects.


“We also focus on research and development and currently, we have a project with the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa) that desalinates 50,000 litres of water daily using solar power alone. Another portable unit can desalinate 7,700 litres every day, and it is being fine-tuned for future deployment in water-scarce regions,” Al Shamsi said.


Later this year, the foundation, which works closely with the Dewa and a number of UAE-based universities, hopes to allocate a budget for additional charitable projects. Beneficiary communities will be selected in collaboration with the Emirates Red Crescent and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.


“Often, we seek to establish artesian wells in a cost-effective manner for populated communities,” Al Shamshi explained.


Following the fund-raising of the initial campaign, Suqia has not actively sought donations again. Still, interested residents can donate funds through dedicated bank accounts, or by texting the foundation with the relevant codes.


Gulf News | Samihah Zaman | Published on January 18, 2017

Popular posts