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When desalination is the most effective solution

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  • When desalination is the most effective solution
  • When desalination is the most effective solution
  • Desalination is widely recognised as a viable and safe technology to provide quality drinking water in coastal areas and other areas not so close to the coast that do not have other conventional water sources such as groundwater, reservoirs or lakes.

About the entity

Almar Water Solutions
Almar Water Solutions is a provider of specialist expertise and solutions in water infrastructure development, including financing, design and operation.
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This is the case in Saudi Arabia and Kenya, where Almar Water Solutions has been recently awarded projects to develop two desalination plants that will produce 450,000 and 100,000 cubic metres per day, respectively. The company is particularly proud of the award of these projects: with them, it becomes established as a new player in the market, while at the same time it can contribute to improving the quality of life of the people living in both regions.

The World Water Forum affirms that 40% of the Arab population is already living in a context of absolute water scarcity. Even though they comprise 6% of the world's population, they only have 1% of the freshwater resources in the world, and water supply problems are exacerbated by high water consumption for personal use. The latter reaches 266 litres per person per day (2017), almost twice as much as the average consumption of European Union citizens.

Photograph of a reverse osmosis rack of a desalination plant

In 2016, Saudi Arabia started the most significant development of drinking water and waste water infrastructure worldwide, under the initiative known as Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program and Vision 2030. In order to deal with the effects of plummeting oil prices, which have turned Saudi Arabia's surplus economy into a deficit economy, the Kingdom put forward a plan to encourage private financing at almost every level of the national economy, including the production of drinking water and waste water reuse. It is estimated that 53,000 million dollars will be required to develop drinking water and waste water infrastructure in the next five years. In the first half of 2017, the first measures were put in place concerning contract awards and tenders, within the framework of the new water plan, focused on privatisation.

With more than 50% of the worldwide capacity, in the Middle East desalination offers an effective solution to address water problems in the region. Almar Water Solutions, through Abdul Latif Jameel, has been recently been awarded the development of the Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant in the city of Al Shuqaiq, on the coast of the Red Sea. With an investment of 600 million dollars, the project will be one of the largest reverse osmosis desalination plants in the world, with a capacity of 450,000 cubic metres per day, equivalent to 180 Olympic-size swimming pools. Construction will begin this year and is expected to be completed in 2021, under a BOO (build-own-operate) contract for a 25 year term, creating 700 direct and indirect jobs.

With more than 50% of the worldwide capacity, in the Middle East desalination offers an effective solution to address water problems in the region

The Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant will produce drinking water for the personal use of 1.8 million people, and for industrial, agricultural and commercial uses, leading the path towards the development and improvement of water infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

Another region with serious water supply issues is sub-Saharan Africa, primarily due to rapid urban growth. Government corruption, poor resource management, uncertain long term investments, and lack of environmental research and urban infrastructure exacerbate the problem. In some cases, the interruption or pollution of the water supply in urban and rural areas has led to domestic and transboundary conflicts. Experts sustain that improvements in the water supply have to be part of economic development, in order to address the serious problems caused by water stress, improve public health and foster economic stability in the region.

Photograph of children collecting water from an unsafe water source

In sub-Saharan Africa, few countries have water and sanitation problems as serious as Kenya does. Currently, more than 19 million people lack access to drinking water and a large portion of the population spends up to one third of the day carrying water under extreme climate conditions. 41% of Kenyans still depend on unimproved water sources such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers.

The main coastal city of Kenya, Mombasa, has an urban population of slightly over a million people, and 66% of them do not have access to safe and affordable water. Even though it sits on the shores of the Indian Ocean, currently Mombasa depends entirely on an unreliable water supply from neighbouring counties, and water crises have led to interruptions in the water supply for several years.

The Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant will produce drinking water for the personal use of 1.8 million people, and for industrial, agricultural and commercial uses

To alleviate water stress in the region, desalination offers a safe long term solution. Almar Water Solutions is to develop Kenya's first large scale desalination plant in Mombasa, with a capacity of 100,000 cubic metres per day. It will be managed and operated for a 25 year term under a BOT (build-operate-transfer) contract model. The project will supply drinking water to more than one million people and will solve the current water crisis in Mombasa, generating hundreds of jobs and contributing to the economic development of the county.

This first large scale desalination project is a ground-breaking step that can be replicated all over east Africa to help address water shortages in this part of the world.

Photograph of a reverse osmosis rack of a desalination plant

Almar Water Solutions is committed to desalination as a tool to drive development and boost the economy in the areas where it does business. Moreover, it has proven expertise in the field, with more than two decades working in the municipal and industrial sectors. Both Shuqaiq and Mombasa will have a new non-conventional water source to address their water challenges, thereby improving the quality of life of their residents.

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